Mike Stevens | Mar 15, 2010

THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT is considering lowering the state's legal blood alcohol limit for motorists to .02, according to a discussion paper released on the weekend, titled Drink Driving in Queensland.

Premier Anna Bligh said that the law would have a stronger effect if it was introduced at a national level.

"The paper canvasses dropping the blood alcohol limit lower than .05," Ms Bligh said. "I believe this is something that would need to be done nationally."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has offered some support for the move, but said that it is an issue which should be discussed by the states.

"I've always been deeply concerned about the impact of alcohol on the road toll," Mr Rudd told the ABC.

"On the details of that though, can I say this is best deliberated on between the transport ministers of Australia - State and Federal - together with the Health Ministers."

A lower national limit appears unlikely however, with top politicians in South Australia and the Northern Territory indicating that neither state will look to follow Queensland's lead without stronger evidence of the benefits of a lower limit.

Two countries to have already established a .02 blood-alcohol limit are Norway and Sweden. Both nations have the lowest road toll rates in the world.

Statistics in the discussion paper show that Queensland's move in 1985 to cut the legal limit from .08 to .05 saw the number of road deaths cut by 11 percent.

A driver with a blood alcohol content of .15 is 22 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

The paper acknowledges that if the limit is dropped below .05, motorists may be unable to determine on their own if they are legally able to drive, with one standard drink being enough to put some over the limit.

"A general alcohol limit of less than .05 may require people to abstain from drinking any alcohol on social occasions – for some people this may be only one standard drink – before driving," the paper says.

The Queensland Government will put the question to the people before making a decision on whether to introduce the lower limit into law. The discussion paper will be made available to the public at www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au.


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