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This note sets out the offences associated with driving and drinking and the policies of successive governments.

The first drink driving offence was introduced in 1925. At present there are seven drink driving offences in Great Britain, with the tariff ranging from a £1,000 fine for refusing to cooperate with a preliminary test, to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine for causing death by careless driving while under the influence.

It is an offence to drive or be in charge of a vehicle after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in the breath, blood or urine exceeds the ‘prescribed limit’. The blood alcohol level has remained at 80 mg/100 ml of blood since it was first introduced in 1967. There have been various reviews of the limit, most recently in June 2010 by Sir Peter North. Successive governments have rejected calls to reduce the blood alcohol limit.

The issue of the drink drive limit was devolved to Scotland under the Scotland Act 2012 and the Scottish Government has indicated that it intends to lower the limit north of the border.

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