Motorists caught driving after eight or ten beers are to have a special lock fitted to their cars which will stop them driving if they have been drinking, transport minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen said on Tuesday.
The new rules will come into force in December and will apply to people found with a blood alcohol level of 1.3 or higher. At the moment the legal limit is 0.5, or 0.2 for drivers with less than five years’ experience.
With the lock, drivers have to blow into a small apparatus fitted to the dashboard to prove they have not been drinking before the engine will start. They will also be required to blow into it several times during the journey.
In addition, drunk drivers who are addicted to alcohol will have to get specialist help. Those who refuse to have the lock fitted will be banned from driving for five years.
Some 200 people are killed on the Dutch roads every year in accidents involving alcohol.
The minister expects some 4,000 people a year will have the lock fitted to their cars. ‘If we would choose to take addicts’ licences away, the improvements in safety would be much less,’ she said last year.
At the moment, drivers automatically lose their licence if caught with a blood alcohol level of 1, if it is a second offence.
Trials with the alcohol lock show the reoffending is down by 75%.