Perceptions of drink driving legal limits in England: a qualitative investigation

David Keatley*, Christopher O'Donnell, Tara Joyce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


There are strict laws relating to alcohol intake and driving; however, while most people are aware of these laws, drink driving still occurs. The current research provides an in-depth account of individuals’ awareness and attitudes towards current drink driving limits and laws in England. Individuals (N=83) were interviewed, and their responses recorded for thematic analysis. Results indicated major themes of: attitudes towards drink driving laws, limits, and effectiveness; reasons for drink driving; and post-drink driving reflections. Outcomes show that most individuals are aware there are strict laws, but are unaware of the exact limits, and do not understand how to convert legal limits into actual drinking behaviours. Sub-themes emerged indicating that individuals held heuristic beliefs about being able to consume one or two alcohol beverages without negative effects on their driving ability. Conclusions from this research indicate that views are mostly invariant across key population demographics; peer pressure was the only sub-theme that appeared to differ between younger and older individuals. The findings have implications for policy makers and future interventions in terms of clarifying drink driving limits and translating this into drinking behaviour. There was also some support for stricter laws and regulations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-744
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Drink driving
  • Alcohol
  • Thematic
  • Driving under the influence
  • Law


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