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Germany

Germany considers alcohol ignition locks for drunk drivers

The German government is considering introducing locks that prevent car engines from starting if the driver is intoxicated. Drunk drivers in Germany could keep their license if they agree to have the device installed.

A man blows into an 'alcohol lock'

It would be up to German drivers whether to install the device

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition members have jointly proposed that the transport ministry test the use of so-called "alcohol locks," according to a report published on Wednesday in the daily Saarbrücker Zeitung.

According to the proposal, drunk-driving offenders would be allowed to keep their drivers licences if they agreed to have a lock system installed in their cars designed to prevent the engine from being started if traces of alcohol are detected on the driver's breath.

"We are open-minded about the voluntary use of alcohol locks," a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer said on Wednesday, adding that they could be "helpful to rehabilitate" offenders.

The spokeswoman went on to say, however, that the ministry was against compulsory installation of the devices, citing both moral and financial objections and adding that any wide-scale moves would have to be first cleared by the European Union.

Such legislation is already in place in the United States and Canada and has been considered by a number of European countries, including the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden.

Starting next year, drunk drivers in Sweden will be able to choose between having their license revoked and installing the alcohol ignition lock.

Stockholm began testing the scheme in 2008, with officials concluding that it contributed positively to the rehabilitation of repeat offenders and posed no greater danger to traffic safety.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AP, dpa)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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