Drink drivers to be locked out from starting their vehicles under tough road safety plan

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Kevin Doyle

Motorists caught repeatedly drink driving face having 'alco locks' fitted to their vehicles.

The Road Safety Authority is carrying out a cost-benefit analysis on the introduction of the devices that prevent drivers from starting cars if they have been drinking.

RSA chief Moyagh Doherty confirmed the move as she launched a blistering attack on "disingenuous" vintners who oppose increased penalties for driving under the influence.

She was addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, which is considering a mandatory three-month driving ban for motorists caught with a blood alcohol level of 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml. At the moment such an offence is punished with a fine and penalty points.

"Ireland has a problem with alcohol and driving. As a society we also have an issue that needs to be dealt with. Our relationship with alcohol in general spills onto the roads," Ms Doherty said.

Her colleague Velma Burns, research manager for the RSA, said a mandatory ban would help change attitudes.

But she said more "high risk offenders" needed tailored solutions.

She confirmed the introduction of 'alco locks' was being considered for repeat offenders.

"International research shows it's very difficult to change the behaviour of those high-risk members because in many cases there's alcohol dependence involved," Ms Burns said.

Ms Doherty said the proposal would have to be targeted. "I think if you're talking about alcohol locks, you're talking about mobile phone use and technology to stop that. You're also talking about technology that will stop a vehicle moving unless a seatbelt is engaged. All of those technologies do improve road safety and we welcome them," she said.