Durham Police is going to offer drink-driving offenders new devices which will breathalyse them before their car starts.

The pilot scheme, which is the first for the UK, uses “interlocks” to immobilise cars if the driver is over the legal limit.

Drivers will be forced to take a breath test before starting their car and again at random points during a journey, with the results sent to police officers in real time via a mobile network.

Durham Police says the devices are already common in the US and Denmark, and are being offered free of charge in the force’s area to offenders on a voluntary basis.

Elsewhere in the world, the devices can be fitted to cars as part of a court sentence for people found guilty of drink-driving.

Andy Crow, the detective inspector leading the move, said: “This really is an innovative project which is a first for the UK and will hopefully help us identify and deal with potential drink-drivers before they even get behind the wheel.

“A number of offenders in our area have a problematic relationship with alcohol and we hope, as part of a wider programme, this will help them address their issues.”

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