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The immobilizer alcohol tester will be mandatory from 2022: who is it for and how does the Alcolock system work

With the new Law on Traffic and Road Safety comes the Mandatory immobilizer breathalyzer from 2022. This is a measure that the European Union has already carried out and which aims to reduce the number of accidents due to alcohol consumption.

We explain how these anti-start breathalyzers work, what has been approved regarding its use and what happens in the rest of European countries. Some systems that are popularly known as ‘Alcolock’, short for ‘alcohol interlocks’ and also the name of the most popular brand of breathalyzers.

As of July 2022

Restart Breathalyzer

The obligation of the immobilizer breathalyzer comes from the European Union. At the end of November 2019, the Regulation for the homologation requirements was approved, which establishes that, no later than July 5, 2022, the new vehicles that were to be homologated must have a series of requirements, including a tire pressure control, an intelligent speed assistant and a “interface for the installation of immobilizer breathalyzers”.

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In Spain, it is the case that the proposal of the new Traffic Law did not initially include this measure. However, after the amendment period, the mandatory nature of these breathalyzers was included to comply with European regulations and take advantage of the new law as an opportunity to transpose the measure.

The Popular Party, PNV and Citizens they proposed an amendment to add to the Traffic Law the incorporation of the breathalyzer. Three separate amendments but similar in content that finally, on September 30, were approved under the same transaction and introduced in a Traffic Law that the Congress of Deputies has already approved and now has its passage through the Senate.

Specifically, the proposed addition reads like this:

“As of July 6, 2022, vehicles dedicated to passenger transport must have anti-start breathalyzers. Drivers of these vehicles will be obliged to use these vehicle control devices each time the switch is activated, under the terms that are established by regulation “.

The mandatory use of these breathalyzers and their use to activate the car is established, but it is pointed out that it will be according to the “terms established by regulation.” That is, a future regulation of the DGT or another law will determine when they should be used (always, for repeat offenders or for certain groups). Measure requires that vehicles have these breathalyzers, but for the moment no obligation has been determined on their use.

An anti-start breathalyzer already extended in Europe and that will reach all new cars

According to the Citizens parliamentary group, this measure is carried out to be “in line with similar practices carried out in the main countries around us, where this practice has been compulsory for years.”

Countries such as France, Italy or Belgium already have a regulation for immobilizers. As of the summer of 2022, the European Union wants the remaining countries to adapt their regulations to match themselves with its regulations.

The legislation is still subject to change and future regulations could better specify how the implementation will be, but a priori the obligation is to “have” these breathalyzers. Not with the need to come pre-installed in the car, but have a connected device to the vehicle.

In the session of September 30, Congress approved the measure and the intention was announced to approve the use of breathalyzers for vehicles intended for the transport of goods and travelers, as well as the additional need for the Government approves a royal decree that “regulates alcohol controls, drugs and other substances during the exercise of professional activity for driver’s positions “.

Restart Breathalyzer 2Restart Breathalyzer 2

In one of the amendments, reference was made to categories M2 and M3 of passenger transport vehicles, but European regulations establish the use of these breathalyzers to all vehicles of categories M (passenger transport), N (freight) and O (trailers).

Connected to the starting system

The ‘Alcolock’ works by alcohol concentration in the driver’s breath and, if the established limits are exceeded, it prevents the car from starting because it is connected to the starting system. In Spain, the maximum permitted rate is 0.25 mg / l in exhaled air in regular drivers and 0.3 mg / l in professionals and novice drivers.

According to a study by the European Commission dating from 2014, the use of these immobilizers can help reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents by up to 65%.

At the moment the implementation of this anti-start breathalyzer continues to leave many doubts, mainly in its effectiveness so that the driver does not really exceed the allowed rate. We will have to wait to know in which cases it should be used and to what extent it can be an effective measure. What we know is that from July 2022, it will be mandatory that all new vehicles are ready for use.

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