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Drivers get breath test to start cars

Repeat drink-drivers will face a breath-test in their car before they can start the engine under new laws

DRINK-DRIVERS may be forced to take a breath test before they can start their cars under new laws just approved.

Magistrates can order repeat offenders to fit breath-test machines in their cars which would stop the engine from starting if the blood-alcohol rating is above certain limits.

Called ethylotests anti-demarrage (EAD), the machines are already mandatory fitments in new school buses and have been shown to cut repeat offending by between 45% and 95%.

The system has been under test in Haute-Savoie since 2004 with more than 350 drivers being forced to use the breath-test before driving. The numbers of repeat offenders were reduced to a quarter - although offences increased once the EAD was removed.

Magistrates will be able to set a time period from six months to three years for the driver to use the machine before driving and drivers who try to get round the device would face fines of 1,500 euros.

Road safety groups have welcomed the new system but called for it to be changed so that drivers have to repeat the test throughout their journeys; to ensure that the driver remains sober and that it is the same person driving.

Costs of the machines - around 1,000 euros - will be met by the driver, although the Haute-Savoie tests showed that the EADs could be rented for about 130 euros a month.

Alcohol-related accidents are the No1 cause of death on the roads, being responsible for 1,200 deaths in 2009; 25% of the total.

Photo: Mercura

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