Driving for zero: alcohol and drugs

Despite decades of campaigns, one in eight road deaths still involves a driver over the limit. Because the UK's drink drive limit is high, there will be more, unrecorded, casualties involving drivers impaired by alcohol but under the current limit - all countries in Europe apart from Malta have a lower drink drive limit than the UK (excepting Scotland which reduced its drink drive limit in December 2014).  

Drug driving is also a widespread menace: since the introduction of a law in March 2015, allowing police to test and arrest in England and Wales for certain illegal and legal drugs, there has been an 800% increase in arrests despite limitations in testing equipment and levels of policing. Get more facts on drink driving and drug driving and scroll down for what we need, how to take action, and more campaign news. 

However, despite the legislation that the government has put in place in 2015, the police have been limited in their ability to detect drug-driving at the roadside. This is due to the absence of Home Office type-approved roadside drug-screening devices. The type approval procedure aims to ensure devices meet government standards. Currently, there are only two devices that have type-approval, and they are only capable of screening for cannabis (THC) and cocaine. Other commonly detected drugs (notably MDMA /ecstasy) have no type-approved testing device. 

What are we calling for?

  • An effective zero-tolerance drink-drive (20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood), in line with evidence even one small drink affects driving. It should be none for the road.
  • The extension of the England and Wales drug driving law to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Stepped-up and targeted enforcement, giving police the strategies, staffing and equipment to test and convict at effective levels to deter.
  • Type-approved roadside screening devices for all banned drugs, with priority given to a device that screens for MDMA (ecstasy). 

Take action




Advice for bereaved victims (click) 


Brake is an established and respected UK-wide provider of support services to people who have been bereaved or seriously injured in a road crash, as well as the family, friends and professionals supporting them.

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Brake's support is provided via a freephone, quality accredited telephone helpline, which is staffed by trained and professionally supervised specialists, and through our highly acclaimed support literature, which is updated regularly in consultation with experts and handed to families by police after every fatal road crash in the UK. We also provide training for professionals.





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