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Wine worries for rural businesses

By Richard at Great Grog

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Has the lowering of the drink driving limit in 2014 had an impact? The answer is a definitive yes, but not in the ways the Scottish Government hoped.

There is international evidence that reducing the drink driving limit will lead to a reduction in road traffic accidents. This is not in dispute. It makes common sense that having fewer drivers having had any alcohol would be a good thing.

The only problem is that Scotland doesn’t seem to accord with international studies and ploughs its own furrow.

Since 2014 when the legislation came into force there has been no change in road traffic accidents on Scotland’s roads.

Professor Lewsey of Glasgow University’s Institute of Health said: “Our findings are surprising, given what we know from previous international evidence, which generally supports a reduction of RTAs following the same lowering of a blood alcohol concentration limit.

“However, the results of our high-quality study are unequivocal – they indicate that the reduction in Scotland’s drink-drive limit in December 2014 simply did not have the intended effect of reducing RTAs.”

The reasons for the lack of reduction will be complex and multi-fold. A change in drinking habits allied to social awareness about drink driving will undoubtedly be factors.

Whatever the reasons, the legislation has not had the desired effect. However, there have definitely been commercial effects felt in Scotland and these are primarily in rural communities and the businesses that serve them.

There has been a drop in midweek drinking at rural businesses such as golf clubs.
There has been a drop in midweek drinking at rural businesses such as golf clubs.

I am fortunate enough to be a wine supplier to many excellent rural businesses, such as golf clubs. They have all experienced downward sales of wine or at the very least a change in pattern of wine drinking.

This might be explained by fewer people coming out for dinner during the week because they would rather drink a glass of wine with their meal and (understandably) can’t justify a taxi fare, even if they could get one.

Golf clubs all across Scotland are struggling to attract new members. The last thing they needed was the mid-week round disappearing because these players might have been in the habit of having a pint or glass of wine after their round.

Will the Scottish Government reverse the decision to reduce the drink driving limit and put it back to England’s level? I don’t think so, despite the evidence of commercial harm and lack of evidence of benefit.

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