Has the lowering of the drink driving limit in 2014 had an impact? The answer is a definitive yes, but not in the ways the Scottish Government hoped. There is international evidence that reducing the drink driving limit will lead to a reduction in road traffic accidents. This is not in dispute. It makes common sense that having fewer drivers having had any alcohol would be a good thing.

The only problem is that Scotland doesn’t seem to accord with international studies and ploughs its’ own furrow. Since 2014 when the legislation came into force there has been no change in road traffic accidents on Scotland’s roads. As a frequenter of the A9 it sometimes doesn’t feel like that, but statistics often don’t lie.

Professor Lewsey of Glasgow University’s Institute of Health said: “Our findings are surprising, given what we know from previous international evidence, which generally supports a reduction of RTAs following the same lowering of a blood alcohol concentration limit. However, the results of our high-quality study are unequivocal – they indicate that the reduction in Scotland’s drink-drive limit in December 2014 simply did not have the intended effect of reducing RTAs.”

The reasons for the lack of reduction will be complex and multi-fold. A change in drinking habits allied to social awareness about drink driving will undoubtedly be factors. Whatever the reasons, the legislation has not had the desired effect. However, as I mentioned at the start, there have definitely been commercial effects felt in Scotland and these are primarily in rural communities and the businesses that serve them.

I am fortunate enough to be a wine supplier to many excellent rural businesses (for example Boat of Garten Golf Club). They have all experienced downward sales of wine or at the very least a change in pattern of wine drinking. This might be explained by fewer people coming out for dinner during the week because they would rather drink a glass of wine with their meal and (understandably) can’t justify a taxi fare, even if they could get one. These same people will still come out at the week-end and will car-share or share a taxi, but the restaurant or bar isn’t relying on the week-end trade. They are relying on the trickle of trade during the week. Week-ends will always take care of themselves.

Golf clubs all across Scotland are struggling to attract new members and they have to compete against a plethora of other sports (and indeed X-boxes) to attract youth. The last thing they needed was the mid-week round disappearing because these players might have been in the habit of having a pint or glass of wine after their round. To be honest, I’m not a golfer. Nevertheless, I can appreciate golf and certainly appreciate that money is brought into Scotland by tourists playing Scottish courses and I welcome that wholeheartedly.

Will the Scottish Government reverse the decision to reduce the drink driving limit and put it back to England’s level? I don’t think so, despite the evidence of commercial harm and lack of evidence of benefit. After all, that would be accepting they might have been wrong, and we can’t have that in a politician can we?

Boat of Garten Golf Club Christmas Wine Dinner night is on Saturday 12th October with Richard from Great Grog hosting the evening. Last year’s event was a stunning success with a sell-out 50 folk having a thoroughly enjoyable night out. No driving was involved. The evening is open to all, please contact the club to book a place and come along to experience my chat in the flesh, so to speak.

I can’t believe I’m already mentioning the Christmas word. If you don’t plan your eating and drinking (it doesn’t have to be out loud) it just isn’t as much fun when it comes around, or is that just me? I think expectation increases the final pleasure so a little planning goes a long way. I know I’ve maybe mentioned this before, but, 95% of all wine purchased in the UK is consumed within 24 hours of purchase. Come along to the Boat in October and join the elite 5%!


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