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At present, drivers who take a breath test with a reading that is above, yet close to the legal limit are given the statutory right to a replacement blood or urine test, but new plans include the removal of this entitlement.
Currently, drivers who record less than 50 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath have the legal right to a blood or urine test, despite the fact that 35 micogrammes per 100 millilitres is currently the legal limit. However, this option dates back to the original introduction of breathaliser technology when there were concerns as to its reliability.
The Government now believes that improvements in the accuracy of technology means that this law is no longer necessary and that some people might be using the right to a blood or urine test as a “delaying tactic”.
Another new measure suggested is to allow police the option not to perform a preliminary breath test. At present, when a suspected drink driver is pulled over by the police, they undergo a preliminary breath test before being taken to the police station for a further evidential test, but under the new plans the introduction of a mobile evidential testing device would mean that only one evidential test at the roadside would need to be performed, and this would be the one used as evidence.
The Government also want to allow registered health care professionals to have a greater role in testing drink drivers using the new roadside evidential breath testing devices. It is felt that this option would speed up the enforcement process and more drink drivers could be managed effectively.
Stephen Hammond said: “We have made great progress in tackling drink drivers and the 2011 fatality figure for drink and drive accidents is the second lowest ever recorded.
“However, last year 280 people died ruining the lives of families up and down the country so more needs to be done to eradicate this menace. That is why we are taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement against drink driving.
“I am determined to make the jobs of those who deal with drink drivers easier and less bureaucratic so that bringing offenders to justice is not left to chance.”
Further proposals within the Government’s plans include research into the current laws regarding a drink driver who is banned from driving, being able to regain their licence, as well as looking into how greater use can be made of vehicle forfeiture powers to get the most dangerous and irresponsible motorists off the road, to include drink drivers.