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by Tim Beissmann

The Victorian Government and the Opposition have both rejected calls from Victoria Police and road safety experts to reduce the legal blood-alcohol limit to 0.02.

Victoria Police this week reopened the debate over the current 0.05 blood-alcohol limit, claiming that reducing the legal limit would cut the number of deaths and the level of trauma caused by drink-drivers.

The argument has been backed up by a Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) study, which concludes that fewer people would die on our roads if the blood-alcohol limit for motorists was reduced to 0.02.

But Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has ruled out any changes to the 0.05 limit.

“With regard to any proposal to alter 0.05, it would need a huge amount of research and science to convince the government of the need to change,” Napthine told reporters.

“We also understand if you looked at, say 0.02, for example, this would have significant implications for the hospitality industry and quality of life across Melbourne and across Victoria.

“Our priority should be about making roads safer.”

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews agreed that switching from 0.05 to 0.02 would be “a massive change”, and one his party did not support.

Victoria Police inspector Martin Boorman told AAP a 0.02 limit would reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries on the road while giving police some leeway with motorists who drink and drive.

“We have to give up sometimes a little bit of our personal freedoms to make the place that we live in a better place to be,” Boorman said.

The MUARC study found that lowering the legal blood-alcohol limit has been shown to reduce the level of drinking of high-range drink-drivers by between 30 and 50 per cent.

Last year 10,345 people were caught drink-driving in Victoria, down 37 per cent compared with 2009, suggesting changing attitudes among motorists towards drink-driving. Victoria Police conducted approximately four million breath tests in 2013.

About 20 per cent of Victoria’s 2013 road toll was made up of people with a blood-alcohol content over 0.05.




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