Aussies torn on booze cut

CHECKS: Random Breath Testing in Lismore.
CHECKS: Random Breath Testing in Lismore.

AUSTRALIANS are divided on whether lowering the blood alcohol limit would reduce road statistics.

But according to alcohol and drug expert Paul Dillon the decision, which he said would change the social fabric of society, is a "no- brainer".

"Around the world countries that have lowered the blood-alcohol concentration have seen a reduction in alcohol-related road fatalities," he said.

New research conducted by Roy Morgan shows more than 800 Australians surveyed were evenly divided, 48% for and 49% against, on whether reducing the drink driving limit to .02 would reduce the road toll.

Across the states most respondents in New South Wales (52%) said more lives would not be saved compared with 50% of Victorians, 49% of Queenslanders, 47% of West Australians and just 34% of South Australians.

Of the women surveyed, 54% said more lives would be saved compared with only 43% of men saying the same.

Young women led the way of those surveyed, with 76% of those not on their full licence, in the 14-17 years age bracket - supporting lowering the blood alcohol limit.

Comparatively only 53% of teenage men aged 14-17 believed lowering the blood alcohol limit would reduce the road toll.

The 35-49-year-olds were the most sceptical about the proposed change with only 41% saying more lives would be saved.

Mr Dillon said he believed it would be only a matter of time until the government negotiated the political minefield associated with the decision and dropped the blood alcohol limit to .02.

"Lowering the blood alcohol limit would have a huge effect on how people socialise," he said.

"If the limit goes down to .02, their lives are going to be changed and that's what they don't want."

 Evidence from Austria, Denmark, Germany and Sweden has shown reductions in the number of reported drink-drive injuries or fatal accidents after blood-alcohol levels were lowered.

Worldwide blood alcohol levels

United States .8 to1.0 mg/ml

United Kingdom .8mg/ml

New Zealand .8mg/ml

Canada .8mg/ml

South Africa .5mg/ml

France .5mg/ml

Italy .5mg/ml

Australia .5mg/ml

Sweden .2mg/ml

Norway .2mg/ml

Czech Republic 0mg/ml

Hungary 0mg/ml

Romania 0mg/ml

SOURCE: International Centre for Alcohol Policies

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