The latest Department for Transport estimate of road casualties for 2016 show a 7% increase from 2015 and 230 fatalities resulting from an accident where at least one driver or rider was over the legal alcohol limit.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “These statistics are very disappointing. The number of KSI (killed and seriously injured) accidents involving illegal levels of alcohol have been relatively stable for a number of years but are now worryingly showing an increase. We are concerned that this may be the start of a trend to which the Government must be vigilant.

“We need to understand whether it is the hard core of habitual heavy drinkers or growth in the number of drivers who admit that they occasionally drive knowing they are over the limit. Either way the message is the same – drink driving ruins lives and makes our roads more dangerous.

“In 2017 our Report on Motoring revealed that 8% of drivers admitted that they had driven shortly after drinking and this rose to 14% for those under 45.

“What is clear is that a majority of drivers (59%) would support a reduction in the legal blood-alcohol limit – similar to that in Scotland – where it has been cut from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams – or lower.”