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Boozy drivers will be locked out of own cars

CONVICTED drivers would have to pass a built-in breathalyser test before being allowed start their car, under new proposals.

The so-called alco-lock immobiliser device prevents motorists starting their engine if they are over the drink-driving limit.

It is already in use in several countries, including Sweden.

The measure would be imposed on motorists convicted of an alcohol-related driving offence. It is one of the new recommendations to be sent to the Department of Transport for consideration by the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

Also included is a proposal to allow law-breaking drivers to receive reduced road bans by completing training courses.

Sentences

If approved, new legislation will be required to empower judges to consider the expanded sentencing options.

At the moment, courts are limited to imposing fines, road bans and prison sentences.

Members of the judiciary have been among the strongest critics of the existing regime, which allows little scope for innovation.

Retired judge Michael Pattwell said he had ideas himself of penalties he would have liked to consider but it is "very, very difficult" without legal backing. Fining and jailing are not the answer to road traffic problems, Mr Pattwell said.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the options outlined at the RSA conference appealed to him and he admitted there is a "strong case" for considering new measures.

"This is something that is being considered in the context of the next road safety strategy," he said.

The strategy is to run from 2013 to 2020. On the introduction of driver courses, it would mean that convicted motorists would receive penalty points and a fine, but could escape more lengthy bans if they underwent training.

In the UK, a similar system sees the bans being cut by up to 25pc.

Curfews

Mr Varadkar also praised a high-tech system developed by Irish students involving the installation of an in-car computer to monitor speed and other aspects of driver behaviour.

A further proposal includes the imposition of curfews or bans on carrying passengers.

Chief executive of the RSA, Noel Brett, said the training courses under consideration confront drivers with dealing with their problem, showing them the risks involved.

Motorists with more than 80mg of alcohol in their system are banned for at least six months.

hnews@herald.ie


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