Cars with Breathalyser Ignition Lock Cannot Be Started by Drunks

Motorists must prove they are below the drink-drive limit before starting cars that have a built in breathalyser

How Smart Start Interlock works

Drivers that have a tricky relationship with alcohol can have a small, discreet, breathalyser ignition lock in their vehicle that stops it starting if they are over the legal limit, Durham Constabulary said. This Smart Start interlock – which is being tested for the first time in The UK - is easy to use. The motorist:

  • Gets into the car and retrieves the breathalyser
  • Provides a sample of breath
  • Waits a few seconds for the sample to be analysed

The Smart Start interlock then confirms the result of the test and reacts accordingly. If, for example, the motorist is above the drink-drive limit it stops the engine starting. The motorist then has to wait long enough to fall below the legal limit, then retest.

There is the opposite scenario, of course. If the motorist is below the drink-drive limit the vehicle starts, drives, and behaves normally. However, the motorist is further required to stop periodically and provide a further sample. If, therefore, the motorist consumes too much alcohol on the move the car is disabled.

Checkpoint Programme

The Smart Start interlock is part of The Checkpoint Programme, Durham Constabulary explained. The Programme – in a far wider context than motoring – is an “alternative to prosecution” that offers people a valuable, four month, opportunity to address the cause of their illegal activities to reduce the risk of repetition.

“People are often motivated to commit crime due to underlying issues in their lives”, Durham Constabulary explained. The cited, common, problems that frequently lead to suspect behaviour include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Health issues
  • Money worries
  • Poor relationships

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Police Commissioner calls for new law

Durham Police Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, Ron Hogg, confirmed: “The misuse of alcohol puts a massive strain on our emergency services. The financial burden alone is estimated to be in the region of eleven billion pounds - not to mention the devastating consequence for the families of those killed or seriously injured.”

Smart Start interlock installation is a common, court imposed, sanction in countries such as The United States of America and Denmark, Mr Hogg continued. The United Kingdom government has “assessed evidence” from such countries and concluded it is an effective, low cost, means to minimise such offending, he revealed.

The Crime and Victims’ Commissioner therefore called for a change of law that enables courts to force motorists to have devices fitted to improve safety. As things stand, motorists that are likely to drink-drive must voluntarily accept such restrictions. There needs to be a “change of national policy”, Mr Hogg concluded. 

"motorist is further required to stop periodically and provide a further sample" Seems to be particularly dangerous, for example on a motorway or in heavy traffic. Imagine being stuck behind one that has failed on a single carriageway traffic jam. Basicaly if you need this device, then you should not be behind the wheel - End of.

Problem here.. If they're over the limit but with a passenger who hasn't had a drink, couldn't the passenger give the breath sample?

Would the user have to locate the breath test device, provide a sample and wait for the analysis every time they want to start the car? For example, if the engine were to stall part way across a major junction or a level crossing?

Agree wholeheartedly with BrianN2. Why on Earth could we possibly need this technology, other than to allow people who should have lost their license to carry on regardless. I have visions of someone driving along with a phone in one hand and a can of Special Brew in the other.

Why dont you do a similar system for people who smoke weed, and other drugs? There should also be law that if you drive your full face should be visible and not covered to identify the driver. No European number plates should be able to drive on the UK roads, I have seen a car in Arabic Script, how is this supposed to be read? The police also do not waste ther time and to meet statistics will not persue foriegn number plates, and people who drive wih a full face veil.