The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dashboard to sniff out drunk drivers

London, Aug. 4: Britain plans to introduce a “dashboard breathalyser” device which is designed to stop cars being started if the driver is over the legal alcohol limit.

The device, known as an alcolock, is aimed at preventing those who have been convicted of drinking and driving from reoffending.

These offenders can volunteer to have an alcolock fitted to their vehicle in a scheme that is due to be trialled in Bristol and in the West Midlands. It has been suggested that those who fit the device could have the length of their driving bans reduced.

The alcolock is an electronic device which is installed in a car. Before drivers are allowed to turn on the ignition they have to take a breath test in order to check their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

If the breath test reveals a BAC above the predetermined threshold level, the alcolock is activated and it is impossible to start the car.

Many states in America and Canada have introduced the alcolock, using it partly as a substitute for the suspension of a driving licence and partly as a preventive measure.

An alcolock trial is currently under way in Sweden. There, the user pays all the expenses of the alcolock programme which is around £1,250 a year.

British drivers will be expected to bear the cost if the system is introduced in the country.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “We think these devices will prove useful. Evidence from overseas suggests that they are effective in reducing the likelihood of convicted drink-drivers from re-offending while the device is fitted to their car.”

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