London: Scotland on Friday lowered its drink-drive limit below that in force in the rest of Britain, in a move that could put motorists over the legal threshold after just one drink.
The change, cutting the limit to 0.05 grammes of alcohol per decilitre (one-tenth of a litre) of blood, sparked warnings that motorists who legally consumed drinks in England -- where the legal limit is 0.08 -- before driving could be breaking the law if they crossed over into Scotland.
Scotland`s reduced limit of 0.05 is in line with that in several European countries including France, Germany and Spain. It has prompted calls for the rest of Britain to follow suit.
"Evidence from across Europe, where the lower limit already applies, suggests we will see reductions in drink-driving and a corresponding increase in lives saved," said senior Scottish police officer Bernard Higgins.
The new limit equates to consuming roughly just under one pint (0.57 litres) of beer for an average man, or half a pint for a woman.
But Higgins said it was preferable to drink no alcohol if getting behind the wheel of a car. "Even at the new limit, you are three times more likely to die in a crash than if you had taken no alcohol," he said.
In a survey by British motoring organisation RAC more than a third of British motorists living outside Scotland said they believed the alcohol limit for driving should be lowered to the same level throughout the rest of Britain.
British road safety organisation Brake called for a limit of just 0.02.
"We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, sending out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable," said Brake`s deputy chief executive Julie Townsend.