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Alcohol Immobilisers

Motorists in parts of France who have been convicted of drink-driving could only be allowed back behind the wheel after serving any ban if their car is fitted with an alcohol-activated immobiliser.

The UK has a mixed legal position that appears fragmented. Low-level alcohol offenders generally just serve their ban and then reapply for a licence. As long as they are not High Risk Offenders, or don’t have a history of persistent alcohol misuse they will get a licence again. Others are monitored by the DVLA using medical reports from GPs.

It can seem very hit and miss. I have frequently represented drivers on their third or fourth drink drive prosecutions and wonder how they have bene able to obtain licences.

The trial in France involves an additional condition for drivers returning to the roads after a ban. It has been introduced in some parts of the country and if successful, it could be rolled out nationwide from 2019.

Drivers will be able to get back behind the wheel on a temporary licence if they agree to install the device at their own expense and agree to undergo medical and psychological checks at a specialised addiction clinic.

School buses and coaches are already required to have the alcohol interlock systems in France.

The devices – a breathalyser attached to the vehicle’s ignition system – will not allow the vehicle to start if the driver’s alcohol level is above a pre-set limit, which may be as low as zero. Drivers must also take a second test within 20 minutes of starting the engine, otherwise, an alarm will sound.

They apparently cost between €1,200 and €1,500 And can only be fitted at approved garages.

It’s worth following this in my view to assess how well it works. France did have a serious drink-drive problem. It reduced the legal limit, as did Scotland, introduced the requirement to carry test kits in cars and has bene proactive in tackling a problem we all recognise. The DVLA method is time-consuming and bureaucratic costs us all a great deal of money.

Food for thought

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