Alcohol interlock programmes finally get a boost in France

  • June 23, 2017

Three French départements are trialling wider use of alcohol interlocks in the fight against drink driving offences.

Drivers who have had their license suspended for a drink driving offence will be able to get back behind the wheel if they agree to install an alcohol interlock at their own expense and to accept medical and psychological check-ups.

The programme, which requires authorisation of a doctor and the local administrator responsible for driving licenses, should lead to more drivers using the devices.

Judges in criminal prosecutions have had the possibility to require use of an alcohol interlock since 2011 in France, but the sanction has only been used in a handful of cases.  Legal changes last year led to the new trial in la Drôme, le Nord and la Marne, which, if successful, will be rolled out nationally in 2019.

One risk of the scheme, in ETSC’s view, is the lack of monitoring of the devices.  So-called ‘dry’ installations, without monitoring, mean drivers may not be followed-up if they test positive several times, and could lead to fraud.

All coaches are required to have alcohol interlocks in France. The Belgian transport minister has suggested a similar move, but the plans appear to be on hold following discussions with regional governments.  Like France, Belgium also has an alcohol interlock programme for drink driving offenders. It has also only been used in a small number of cases relative to the large numbers of driving license suspensions in the country.

ETSC is calling for a standardised interface on all new cars to enable simple connection of the devices when the EU revises minimum vehicle safety standards later this year. The complex and varying connection methods on newer cars is a barrier to wider use of the devices.