Drivers face random breath testing regardless of how they are driving, under government plans to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by drink driving.
Any motorist could be stopped by police under the proposals, which ministers believed would provide a more powerful deterrent.
Research has shown that many drivers exceed the alcohol limit because they believe they can still drive safely and that there is little chance of being caught.
At present, the police can stop only those drivers who have committed a moving traffic offence or those who they suspect have exceeded the limit.
Random breath testing has been credited with halving the drink-drive death rate in New South Wales, Australia, and saving more than 4,300 lives.
Other measures being considered by the government include creating an incentive scheme for designated drivers, but calls for a reduction in the drink-drive limit have been resisted.
Although the average European blood-alcohol limit is 50mg, Britain remains at 80mg but has more stringent penalties. Drivers caught exceeding the limit in Britain get an automatic 12-month ban while some other countries impose only a fine.
The death toll from drink-driving has risen by a fifth in the past seven years, from 400 in 1999 to 480 in 2005. Over the same period, the number of breath tests carried out by the police has fallen from 765,000 to 578,000.
The Government's review of its road safety strategy concluded: "Drink driving is still a major problem, with 17 per cent of road deaths occurring when someone was driving over the legal limit for alcohol."
It will propose a series of measures in a consultation paper later this year, including random breath testing. It will also consider placing a greater obligation on pub landlords, restaurant owners and service station operators not to allow their customers to drink and drive.
The law has been changed to allow breath samples taken at the roadside to be used as evidence in court rather than requiring officers to take further samples back at the police station. This power cannot be used, however, until a suitable roadside testing device has been approved by the Home Office.
The Department for Transport is also testing devices fitted to the cars of convicted drink drivers. The ignition is unlocked only when the driver gives a breath sample that is free from alcohol.
# Alastair Jamieson
# Telegraph Online
# October 18, 2008
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