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Alcolocks on the rise

A breath alcohol ignition interlock device, or ‘alcolock’ for short, is a breathalyser located near the driver’s seat which prevents drivers from starting the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

The driver blows into a mouthpiece and their breath is then tested for its alcohol content. If the measured level exceeds the programmed blood alcohol content level, the device prevents the engine from being started.

Alcolocks are gaining a foothold in Europe. Some countries impose alcolocks as sentencing for offenders of drunk-driving, while in some countries alcolocks are mandatory for drivers of public transport. Sweden has trialled ‘alco gates’ in harbours to prevent drivers from disembarking from ferries while under the influence of alcohol. By blowing in a breathalyser upon exit, it can quickly be determined whether the driver is fit for the road or should rather leave their vehicle. There is a strong indication that 'alco gates' are needed.

The Swedish association MFH has started a testing lab for alcolocks to determine their quality and reliability. Their results are publicly available and can guide other countries in choosing the right alcolock provider. More background information can be found on MHF’s homepages.