A NORTH East road safety officer has backed a Victoria Police push to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers to .02, arguing it would reduce the road toll.
Victoria Police are hoping to debate the issue after Monash University Accident Research Centre found drivers were influenced when they had a blood alcohol level that was less than the legal limit of .05.
RoadSafe North East road safety officer Robert Allen believed a lower limit would encourage drivers to reconsider having a drink before getting behind the wheel.
“If you’re going to drive, don’t drink at all,” he said.
But member for Benambra and former Wodonga policeman Bill Tilley said that was not the only answer.
He said he would consider the idea if “robust” research was undertaken, saying it was an important debate.
“But an investigation needs to be done into whether .02 will reduce crashes and incidents,” he said.
“We can’t just say dropping the alcohol level will be the key to saving lives.
“People are tragically losing their lives not just because of alcohol, but also because of their speed, drugs and road infrastructure.
“I support all agencies but we can’t have simple solutions to hard questions.”
EDITORIAL: Let the booze debate begin
Mr Tilley said they also could not legislate against stupidity.
Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Martin Boorman said “in today’s community, drink-drivers are very much frowned upon and there is also a social stigma” and drink-driving was not tolerated by the community.
With the road toll significantly decreasing, Mr Allen said he would support any initiative of Victoria Police.
“We’ve come a long way in reducing the road toll in the last 40 years,” he said.
“With all the initiatives that have been implemented, even the ideas the public has objected to, have worked to reduce the road toll.
“To reduce it even further it means we have to look at further initiatives.”
Mr Allen said he was happy to support any idea that reduced drink-driving.
VICTORIA’S two major political parties have rejected a call from police to consider lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers.
Police yesterday said the legal blood alcohol limit should be lowered from .05 to .02 to reduce road deaths and trauma.
Inspector Martin Boorman said drivers who blew 0.05 were twice as likely to be involved in road trauma.
A .02 limit would cut fatalities and injuries while giving police some leeway on drivers who drank and drove, he said.
“We have to give up sometimes a little bit of our personal freedom to make the place we live in a better place to be,” Insp Boorman said.
He said 20 per cent of fatal crashes in Victoria involved alcohol, down from 50 per cent in the ’80s. But Premier Denis Napthine said it would be a blow to the hospitality sector.
“With regard to any proposal to alter .05, it would need a huge amount of research and science to convince the government of the need to change,” Dr Napthine said.
“We also understand that if you looked at, say .02, for example, this would have significant implications for the hospitality industry and the quality of life across Melbourne and across Victoria.”
Dr Napthine said Victoria’s road toll had hit a new low last year and was tracking below the five-year average this year.
The Opposition Leader, Daniel Andrews, echoed Dr Napthine’s views.
“To change from .05 to .02 would be a massive change,” Mr Andrews said.
He said the focus should be on a loophole that can prevent individuals who record levels up to 0.07 losing their licence.