Written statement to Parliament

Consultation on changes to enforcement procedures for drink driving offences

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Drink and drug driving enforcement consultation launched.

The government has today launched a consultation on some enforcement issues relating to the current legislation on drink and drug driving. This consultation encompasses the legislative changes the government proposed in its response of March 2011 to the reports by Sir Peter North and the Transport Select Committee on drink and drug driving (the government’s response). The changes covered in this consultation should not be confused with the legislation related to driving with a specified impairing drug in the body, which is currently passing through Parliament in the Crime and Courts Bill.

The consultation on enforcement of drink driving will cover 4 potential legislative changes:

  • withdrawal of the right people have to replace their breath alcohol specimens with either a specimen of blood or specimens of urine in cases where the lower of the two breath readings provided does not exceed 50 microgrammes (mcg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of breath (known commonly as the ‘statutory option’)
  • removing the requirement for preliminary testing where evidential testing is undertaken away from a police station - this would mean that a preliminary breath test would not to have to be taken in addition to 2 evidential breath tests, when mobile evidential breath testing devices are used away from a police station, while such devices are not yet available, it is expected that they may be type approved within the next 2 years
  • streamlining the procedure for testing drink drivers and drug impaired drivers in hospital so that a wider range of registered healthcare professionals are allowed to take evidential blood specimens - this would make it consistent with other policing provisions
  • the consultation asks for views on whether a health care professional other than a doctor should be able to assess whether a driver may be under the influence of a drug prior to evidential testing

The legislative changes proposed in this consultation would apply to the Road Traffic Act 1988. Subject to the outcome of the consultation, we intend to legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows on the matters covered in points 1-4 above.

Other proposals in the consultation

The Road Traffic Act 1998 (and other parallel legislative provisions) apply similar measures to the drink drive offence to railways, shipping and aviation. The consultation seeks views about whether any changes here should also apply to these other transport sectors.

The consultation explores how further use can be made of vehicle forfeiture powers to get the most dangerous and irresponsible motorists off the road including those who drive while under the influence of alcohol.

The consultation document explores the scope for further research into the processes for reassessing whether a driver banned due to drink driving should regain their licence. The research would develop the evidence base for longer term solutions in this area.

The consultation seeks views about the way forward on 3 as yet un-commenced legislative provisions in the Road Safety Act 2006 relating to the training and punishment of certain road traffic offenders.

In line with the revised guidance on consultations, we propose to shorten the consultation time for this to just over 5 weeks. We are particularly interested in the views of the healthcare sector on points 3 and 4 and are planning to meet representative bodies for medical professionals in early December.