New drink drive limit having adverse impact on licensed trade



The new drink drive limit imposed in December will have a greater impact on the future of pubs than the smoking ban did nearly a decade ago according to industry experts.

One of the UK’s largest brewery and pub chains said the reduction in the alcohol limit for drivers from 80mg to 50mg for every 100ml of blood was a radical change for the licensed trade.

Drivers are closely adhering to the new rules with many also factoring in the fact that they may still be over the limit the next day and are limiting their alcohol intake accordingly.

But Belhaven owner Greene King, which has 200 pubs in Scotland said the new limit had affected trading.

Its like-for-like sales in its retail division rose a mere two per cent in the two weeks over Christmas and New Year, versus 6.4 per cent in the same period in 2013-14.

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (pictured), said the new limit will have a bigger effect on the trade than the introduction of the smoking ban” nine years ago, which he suggested speeded  up pub closures around the country.

Mr Waterson added: “It’s all about the next day. The vast majority of people did not drink and drive if they went out – it’s about residual alcohol levels in the bloodstream the next day.

“People are not drinking the night before – they are very concerned there will be this residue of alcohol in their bloodstream the next morning.

“It is going to completely change the business as we know it.”

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, the body representing brewers and pub groups said that it previously warned Scottish ministers the new limit would adversely affect trade.

The association’s chief executive Brigid Simmonds, said: “This makes the case for further beer tax reductions to support pubs in the Budget even stronger.”

Tesco reported sale of low alcohol and non-alcoholic beers rose by 80 per cent in Scotland as motorists avoid taking risks.

Scotland is now in line with the majority of the EU following the introduction of the new limits.

England, however, retains the previous limits of 80mg per 100ml of blood.