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Female drink-drive convictions almost double

New report calls on drink-drive limit to be lowered as number of female drink drivers has risen since 1998

Drink driving

The percentage of women convicted for drink-driving has almost doubled since 1998, according to new research which calls for the legal alcohol limit to be lowered.

The stats reveal that 17 per cent of convictions for drink driving were female in 2012, up from just nine per cent in 1998. Even more worrying, was the fact one in six women motorists said they thought they'd driven over the limit in the past year.

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The research, funded by Direct Line and the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, also found that when figures were adjusted for miles driven, women were actually more likely to be over the limit than men from the age of 30.

Drink-drive limit: understanding the risks

The report recommends better education and more awareness for women but also calls for a lowering of the legal drink-drive limit. It argued that the current 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood was too high and based on a male metabolism. The limit is also the highest in Europe while Northern Ireland and Scotland are both proposing to lower the limit to 50mg in 100ml.

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Females metabolise alcohol in a totally different way and hit the limit much quicker as the alcohol is far less diluted in the bloodstream. Half of the women surveyed as part of the research said they didn't even know the limit and 12 per cent felt they could drink more than the "average woman".

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Drink-driving down over Christmas and New Year

Other report recommendations include greater clarity of wine measures and the units in them and more analysis of drink-drive statistics by gender from the Government.

Steve Maddock, managing director of claims at Direct Line Group said: “The issue of women and drink driving is rarely addressed, but when we look at the figures, we can see that this is a real issue. Part of the problem is a lack of awareness and confusion as to what constitutes drink driving and also the misguided belief that in some circumstances, driving whilst over the limit can be justified.”

“Whilst we’d encourage all drivers who drink alcohol to ensure they know and understand the legal limits, we’d urge them to avoid drinking alcohol altogether if they intend to get behind the wheel.”

Help with driving abroad

Road safety minister Robert Goodwill said the Government was committed to tackling drink-driving with better regulations already due to come into force in March. However, there are no current plans to lower the legal limit.

He added: "Later this year we will launch the next phase of the THINK! campaign on drink driving. So our advice is simple; if you are driving have none for the road, as one drink can put you over the limit."

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