Lower limit: Police conduct random breath testing in Ballina.
Lower limit: Police conduct random breath testing in Ballina.

0.02 drink-drive limit proposed

QUEENSLANDERS may be restricted to sober driving if a discussion paper to lower the drink-driving limit is backed.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh introduced a Drink-Driving in Queensland Discussion Paper over the weekend, which suggests the State limit should be lowered from 0.05 per cent to 0.02.

The paper follows Queensland’s ‘shocking’ 2009 road toll and its failure to adhere to its ‘Below 299’ campaign last year.

Queensland Transport reported the State had 318 fatalities between February 1, 2009 and January 31, 2010 with NSW even worse, recording 481 fatalities in the same period.

Despite the high road toll, NSW Minister for Transport and Roads David Campbell is not going to follow in Anna Bligh’s footsteps.

“NSW has no plans to reduce current blood-alcohol limits for motorists,” a spokesperson for Mr Campbell said.

NSW currently has a 0.02pc alcohol limit for public service drivers such as bus drivers and taxi drivers, truck drivers carrying over 13.9 tonnes and drivers transporting dangerous goods.

P-platers also have restrictions, which Mr Campbell is quite content with.

“In NSW, drivers holding a P1 or P2 driver’s licence, as well as all learner drivers, must have a blood alcohol concentration of zero. The zero alcohol limit means all learner and provisional licence holders can’t consume any alcohol at all before driving,” Mr Campbell’s spokesperson said.

Despite the P-plater restrictions, young drivers still made up for 23 per cent of total fatalities over 12 months ending in February 2010, according to the RTA.

However, alcohol was not the major cause of fatalities over the same period, finishing third to excessive speeding and fatigue.

The Shadow Minister for Roads, Andrew Stoner believes lowering the alcohol limit will not fix road issues but will limit the public’s enjoyment of a single drink.

“A reduction in the drink-driving blood alcohol limit is not on the agenda for the Liberals and Nationals,” Mr Stoner said.

“While it’s important to keep drunk drivers off our roads, reducing the legal limit to 0.02 would mean many responsible drivers would be unable to enjoy a single standard drink.

“A better way of reducing the road toll would be to target high-level drink-drivers, as well as introducing more police, improving driver education and building safer roads.”

The controversial discussion paper states 73.1pc of drink-drivers in Queensland in 2007-2008 were first time offenders and 80.4pc of drivers in the same period were below the 0.149pc blood alcohol concentration level which is considered within medium range.

All states and territories in Australia impose the 0.05pc alcohol limit except for the ACT which requires drivers be less than 0.05pc. South Australia has also rejected Queensland’s suggestion.

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