Motoring groups oppose calls for random drink-driving tests

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Indy Politics

Motoring groups backed Home Office opposition to European pressure for random breath testing yesterday.

The European Commission wants random tests across its member states to cut drink-driving and boost road safety.

The president of the European Traffic Police Network (Tispol) warned that the Commission would attempt to make its recommendation a directive if it is not followed.

But the Home Office is resisting, claiming such tests are inefficient and not an effective policing method compared to specific targeting of suspects.

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Random tests are not the most effective way of catching drink drivers. They [the police] might have to stop 1,000 motorists to catch five or 10, whereas if they target 100 people they might catch 100."

Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA Motoring Trust, said: "How do you impose random breath tests on someone? Is a chief constable going to be told he must conduct 20 tests this month or he is defective in his duties?"

It is the first time Europe has made such a recommendation and the majority of member states already carry out random tests. Under current British legislation, police can only give drivers a breath test if they believe that they have been drinking alcohol.

The Tispol president, Ad Hellemons, who is also the Dutch Assistant Commissioner of Police, told BBC Radio Five Live: "We can't understand why governments would want to protect drink-drivers."

But the Home Office said that British police forces already make effective use of their powers. It believesthat enhancing those powers, such as when and where tests can take place, is more relevant.

"The Government does not think that the police should have unlimited powers to stop and test," a spokeswoman for the Home Office said.