Drunk drivers have to fit 'alcolocks' to cars

Dutch drivers caught operating a car while massively over the legal alcohol limit will be forced to fit their cars with "alcolocks" which automatically lock the engine if the driver is over the limit.

Convicted drunk drivers found in control of with blood alcohol levels over 1.3 mg/dl -- more than six times the legal limit of 0.2 mg/dl -- will be ordered to install alcolocks in their cars, the transport ministry said on Wednesday.

The new rules will come into effect on December 1, in time for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The way the alcolock works is that the driver must first breathe into it to unlock the engine, and will have to repeat the same process at regular intervals during the journey.

If the mini-breathalyser, which is fitted to the dashboard, indicates a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, the engine will not turn on.

The alcolocks will be installed for two years with a possible six-year extension if the driver continues to drink and drive. In the worst cases, the driver's licence will be revoked, and the driver will have to wait five years before he or she can take a new test.

About 200 people die every year because of drink-driving, Dutch media reported.

The Netherlands, home to global beer brand Heineken, is famous for its beer industry, and ranks 14th among Europe's top beer consumers, lagging the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium.

Annual consumption of beer in the Netherlands is more than 1 billion litres.

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