Breathalyser in your car by Christmas?

Magistrates in Belgium will soon be able to order motorists convicted of drink-driving to install an alcohol breath ignition interlock device in their car. The device obliges the driver to take a breath test for alcohol before he or she can start the vehicle.

It can be installed on the dashboard of the vehicle. Motorists have to breathe through a tube connected to the device to determine whether or not they have consumed too much alcohol to be allowed to drive a motorised vehicle.

The vehicle will not start if levels in access of 0.2 per mille are detected. The device can also be programmed to require new tests at regular intervals.

Drivers convicted of drink-driving can be obliged to purchase or rent the device from recognised centres. The device can cost as much as 2,000 euros.

The ignition interlock device will mainly be used to target repeat offenders.

Legislation allowing magistrates to require the use of the device was passed last year, but it is only now that the Mobility Secretary Etienne Schouppe (Flemish Christian democrat) is ready with the necessary paperwork to enable the introduction.

The legislation will be published in the official gazette by the beginning of December at the latest so that the new measure can be implemented before the festive season.

Ignition interlock devices are already being used on a voluntary basis by a number of bus and taxi companies. It is being employed in France too and the Netherlands is introducing it for motorists caught with over 1.3 per mille in their blood.