A competition has been launched to develop new roadside breathalyser technology that will allow police to gather ‘on the spot proof’ of drink driving.
The competition will be run by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), using £350,000 of funding provided by the DfT.
At present, when a driver provides a positive alcohol screening test via a breathalyser at the roadside, the police are required to take the driver back to the police station to obtain an ‘evidential sample’.
The competition aims to help manufacturers develop one or more ‘type approved devices’ which can be used by UK police forces by summer 2020.
The Government, in its 2011 Strategic Framework for Road Safety, committed to obtaining type approval for roadside evidential equipment.
PACTS says the Home Office Type Approval Standard, which these devices must meet, is the most demanding standard in the world – designed to ensure a high-level of accuracy and reliability that will stand up to legal challenge and meet the operational needs of the police.
According to PACTS, until now manufacturers have not invested sufficiently in devices which meet this standard – but this competition will incentivise them to do so.
The DfT says evidential roadside testing will mean those marginally over the drink drive limit will not have extra time to ‘sober up’ and stand a chance of passing a later test at the station. It will also free up crucial police time and resources.
Jesse Norman, roads minister, said: “The drink drive limit has helped to give us one of the safest road networks in the world but there is always more we can do.
“This new mobile breathalyser technology will enable the police to enforce the alcohol limit more rigorously on those who still choose to drive after drinking, putting others at risk.”
David Davies, executive director of the PACTS, said: “PACTS is delighted to have the opportunity to take forward this initiative. PACTS strongly supports efforts to reduce drink driving and the casualties which result.
“The number of GB deaths involving illegal levels of alcohol has not changed significantly since 2010, while the number of serious injuries rose in 2016 to its highest since 2012.
“Evidential roadside testing will greatly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of police enforcement, and we hope will lead to substantial reductions in deaths and injuries.”