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DRINK-DRIVERS FACE TOUGHER RULES

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Drink-drive rules involving the most serious offenders are to be tightened up.

Under new regulations the most dangerous offenders will have to prove  they are no longer dependent on alcohol before they are allowed to get  back behind the wheel.

The new measures will also see those drink-drivers who obstruct the  police by refusing to allow their blood samples to be analysed being  treated the same as other high risk offenders.

Currently, all high risk offenders must pass a medical examination  before they can be issued with a driving licence following their  disqualification. However, drivers can start driving as soon as they  have applied for their licence and before they have taken and passed the  necessary medical.

But from June 1 the most dangerous drink-drivers will have to pass a  medical confirming they are no longer alcohol dependent at the end of  their disqualification and BEFORE they start driving.

Also, those offenders who refuse to allow their blood samples to be  analysed will also, from June 1, only get their licence back following  disqualification if they pass the required medical.

Under the  High Risk Offender (HRO) scheme, drivers convicted of certain  serious drink/driving offences must have a medical investigation to confirm that there are no on-going problems with the misuse of alcohol  before they can be issued with a licence.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA is notified of such  offenders by the courts. Last year the DVLA was notified by the courts  of just over 50,000 drink-driving convictions.

Nearly 22,000 of those were classed as high risk offenders. Of those, around 5,000 drivers either failed, or failed to attend, their medical.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: "Drink-drivers are a menace  and it is right that we do everything we can to keep the most high risk  offenders off the road."

The IAM's response to tougher drink-drive rules:

Director of policy and research Neil Greig said: "Persistent drink drivers are a menace on our roads and these new rules will be welcomed by the law abiding majority."

"Numbers of repeat offenders are still far too high and the government should urgently consider bringing in a vehicle forfieture scheme like that in Scotland. This has been a success with the strong sanction of having your car sold acting as a real deterrent. Enhanced Drink drive rehabilitation courses may also be an option for these problem drivers but ultimately their selfishness means that they deserve the strongest possible punishment."

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