Belgium to revoke 15-minute waiting period before alcohol test

Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) is to amend the existing breath test procedure. The possibility of requesting a 15-minute waiting period will be abolished, and the minimum volume of exhaled air will be reduced.

Gilkinet has submitted the faster and more efficient measure to the regions and hopes it can come into effect by the BOB winter campaign. The new rule is part of the intention to check one in three drivers, in line with the federal road safety plan.

Simplify procedures

Alcohol is one of the three biggest ‘killers’ in traffic, with speeding and mobile phone use behind the wheel. Every day, there are 12 accidents involving a driver under the influence. Every year, 115 lives could also be saved if no motorists were still driving under the influence of alcohol.

To step up checks, the minister now wants to simplify alcohol check procedures. For instance, the 15-minute waiting time will be abolished. That procedure was there to compensate for the effect of a freshly drunk glass of alcohol in the mouth, but modern equipment can detect and neutralize it automatically.

Motorists will only have to exhale 1,2 liters instead of 1,9 liters of air into the breathalyzer. Previously, those who did not reach the required volume of 1,9 liters had to take a blood sample – a time-consuming procedure.

Consequently, the actual check will consist of two stages – a test and, if necessary, an analysis to determine the exact alcohol content. Nothing will change for police forces in the field except that they will be able to carry out more checks per hour.

Nearly 3 000 driving licenses revoked

During the BOB summer campaign from early June to the end of August, police checked 358 434 drivers for drunk driving. That’s an average of 4 073 per day. Of the drivers checked, 8 025 blew positive, or 2,24%. This is a slight decrease from last year when 2,5% of drivers were positive. There were 2 870 driving licenses revoked during this campaign.

For over 25 years, the BOB campaign, introduced by Vias in 1995, has raised awareness around the designation of a BOB, a driver who does not drink alcohol.

“The results show that the campaign is not missing its target,” says Koen Ricour, director of the highway police. “The vast majority of the population clearly understood the message of the BOB campaigns and are adjusting their behavior.”

“But a small minority continues to ignore the message. These drivers endanger not only themselves but also other road users. The percentage is still too high, and the police will continue to carry out alcohol checks.”

The road safety barometer for the first six months of 2023 shows 1 941 fatal and injury accidents involving alcomobilisme. “It, therefore, remains necessary to do a lot of checking,” says Vias.


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