Plans to enforce a lower drink-driving limit in Scotland have the broad support of the public and will help to save lives, the Scottish Justice Secretary has said.
Kenny MacAskill claimed widespread backing for the plan on the day a consultation opened on whether to cut the legal limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg north of the border. The move would bring Scotland in line with other European countries such as France, Germany and Spain, but create a difference with England.
Mr MacAskill said: "We think in Scotland that this consultation will show that the vast majority of people want this.
"I think we're expecting support around the chamber. Although it's being driven by the SNP Government, we know that other parties are with us on this. We've got these powers, we're acting to save lives. If we had more powers, I think we'd save more lives."
The power to set drink-driving limits was among those transferred from Westminster to Holyrood under the Scotland Act this year. Further powers to vary penalties or allow random testing were refused, Mr MacAskill said.
In 2010, Westminster's Transport Committee recommended against setting an interim level at 50mg, arguing instead for a police crackdown and education campaign. MPs said that taking the limit to an even lower level would be too great a step "at this stage".
Mr MacAskill, launching the consultation outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, said: "The reason we're going for 50 is that is the European norm, it's what most countries have. Apart from Malta, the UK is the only other country that operates an 80 limit. We tend to think it's the other countries that have got it right, rather than the UK and Malta."
On calls to lower the limit further, he said: "It poses problems for the police and prosecution in terms of mouthwash, granny's sherry trifle and chocolate liqueurs, never mind people who can have it in their metabolism or whatever else."
He added: "The argument has been between 50 and zero. We're happy to look at what the consultation and the evidence shows. The advice from police, the advice from the prosecution, is that zero has real problems and causes difficulties. A limit of 20 would have to tie in with some element of graduated penalties."
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC said: "As prosecutors, we know from bitter experience the misery and suffering that driving under the influence can cause. It all too often results in serious injury or loss of life, with around 10% of the deaths on Scottish roads involving drivers who are over the legal limit."