'Alco-lock' tests begin to stop re-offenders

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The Independent Online

Breathalysers could be fitted to the vehicles of convicted drink-drivers to prevent them starting the engine if they are under the influence of alcohol. The "alco-lock", aimed at stopping re-offending, is to go on trial in Birmingham and Bristol ahead of possible legislation.

Breathalysers could be fitted to the vehicles of convicted drink-drivers to prevent them starting the engine if they are under the influence of alcohol. The "alco-lock", aimed at stopping re-offending, is to go on trial in Birmingham and Bristol ahead of possible legislation.

The 18-month pilot scheme will initially rely on volunteers, but use of the electronic device could be enshrined in a new law allowing courts to use the lock in a rehabilitation programme. Offenders who have the locks fitted may have the length of their driving bans reduced.

The Department for Transport said the system was not foolproof and there was little to prevent convicted drivers persuading someone else to take the breath test. But a spokes- man for the department said that research in Canada, where the device is being used, showed friends and families almost invariably refused to co-operate with such fraud. The spokes-man said there was a special technique for breathing into the apparatus and, although friends could be taught how to do it, it was not possible for a passer-by to use it successfully.

The alcohol limit for a convicted motorist may be set lower than the present legal limit of 80mg of alcohol for 100 millilitres of blood. In a test yesterday in London the limit used was 20mg, and one pint of lager was sufficient to immobilise the vehicle.

David Jamieson, the Road Safety minister, said 20 per cent of convictions involved re- offending motorists.

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