Three glasses of wine with a meal has little affect on driving ability, according to a group of French winemakers.

Les 4 Vérités sur le Vin, a group campaigning for a higher legal driving limit for wine than for other types of alcohol, argues that the legal driving limit of 0.5 grams per litre of blood, among other regulations, is too hard on wine – and has led to declines in restaurant wine sales and national wine consumption.

According to government statistics, clampdowns on drink-driving have led to a safer environment. Since France stepped up enforcement of drunk-driving laws in late 2002, highway deaths have fallen 20%, official sources say.

But Fabrice Delorme, winemaker in Tavel and a member of Les 4 Vérités, told decanter.com, ‘It is inaccurate to compare wine with other alcohols. Fewer people drink and drive with too much wine than they do with too much harder alcohol.’

Statistics do not breakdown the types of alcohol involved in accidents, Delorme said, referring to the group’s information brochure, which has sold 110,000 copies since its publication six months ago.

‘With the limit, you cannot drink three glasses of wine, even with a meal, which studies show hardly affect one’s driving ability,’ he added.

The group’s four-page brochure includes statistics that contradict arguments for the strict law in France.

‘Great Britain has 50% less accidental road deaths than in France, but has a higher blood alcohol limit of 0.8 g/l,’ it reads.

According to worldwide statistics, the French alcohol limit for driving is the norm, while some countries, including China, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Poland, have lower or even zero tolerance, while the UK, Brazil and Canada, among others, have higher tolerance levels.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos