The UK Government should introduce alcohol interlocks as soon as possible for drivers convicted of drink driving. This would reduce the high level of reoffending and cut the number of deaths and injuries that result, according to a new report from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS).
Alcohol interlocks require the driver to blow into a breath-testing instrument connected to the vehicle ignition system before the vehicle will start. If the device detects alcohol over the limit, the vehicle will not start, preventing drink driving. The alcohol concentration level for the test is normally set close to zero.
The report – Locking out the drink driver – finds that one on six drink driving offences is committed by a reoffender. The current reliance on media campaigns, penalties, driving bans and police enforcement is not enough to deter reoffending. Nor is it enough to bring down the number of deaths from drink driving – 240 each year, which has not changed since 2010.
It looks at the use of alcohol interlocks around the world and finds that they are significantly more effective than licence disqualification at reducing reoffending. . If combined with rehabilitation courses, the benefits can last long after the device is removed. The report recommends that the courts be given powers to offer or mandate alcohol interlocks for as many drink drivers. The courts might reduce the period of licence disqualification for those offenders who agree to a device being fitted.
Offenders should be responsible for the costs of the interlock programme – typically around £1,000 a year, against estimated £70,000 possible costs for loss of job, legal fees, fines, increased insurance premiums and the cost of public transport from a drink drive conviction. The savings to society in avoiding some 240 deaths and 1,400 serious injuries a year where a driver is over the legal limit are substantial.
More details from PACTS >>