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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Dutch cars to breathalyse their drivers

11th October 2011

Some people in the Netherlands who are caught driving under the influence of alcohol will now be required by law to fit their cars with a device which will prevent them from doing so again.


The device, known as the alcolock, automatically locks the engine if the driver is over the legal limit, and will be installed for periods of at least two years.

In cases where people kept trying to drive even though they had been drinking, Dutch authorities plan to keep the device installed for a further six years.

The law is only valid for drivers whose blood alcohol levels are over six times the Dutch limit, and has not yet come into effect.

For a driver to start a car that is fitted with an alcolock, they must first breathe into a mini-breathalyser fitted to the dashboard.

If the driver will be driving for a long time, they may have to repeat the breathalyser test several times throughout their journey.

If at any point the driver fails the test, the car will simply stop working.

In order to curb the drink driving which usually happens around Christmas and New Year, the new law will come into effect on 1 December.

In the Netherlands, where the annual consumption of beer is more than a billion litres, about 200 people die every year in alcohol-related car accidents.

Some MEPs have furthered the idea behind the law by sponsoring a report recommending that the device be made mandatory on all new cars.

In Ireland, lawmakers also proposed that drivers be forced to pay for the installation of an alcolock, much like the new Dutch law.

Noel Brett, Road Safety Authority chief executive in Ireland, said he believed that the addition of an extra type of sentence could deter people.

He said he believed it would particularly deter people who had repeatedly driven while over the legal limit, although he also said it was important that the cost of fitting the alcolock not be paid by the government.

The same report said that all new cars should be fitted with devices that would automatically call emergency services in the event of an accident.

It also said that cars should include satellite-enhanced detectors which would report people's speed and even be able to pick up sleepy driving.

MEPs aim to cut road deaths across Europe by one half within the next eight years.


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