Alcohol locks fooled by slimmers
TT/Adam Ewing · 4 Sep 2006, 12:49
Published: 04 Sep 2006 12:49 GMT+02:00
Even without having a sip of booze, dieting too much can cause a spike in acetone in your breath, causing an alcohol lock to prevent you from starting an engine.
People in Sweden convicted of drinking and driving can apply to the Swedish National Road Administration to have an alcohol lock fitted. The system requires the driver to breathe into an alcohol lock. If the person is not sober, the car will not start. Some bus companies have also fitted the system to their fleets.
Doctors Stephan Rössner with Karolinska University Hospital and Alan Wayne Jones with The National Board of Forensic Medicine described the case of a 58-year-old overweight pilot whose alcohol lock-car prevented him from starting the engine despite him being sober.
The two doctors said the mix-up could have legal repercussions.
Liza Jakobsson, head of the alcohol lock project with The Swedish Road Administration, was aware that a simpler and cheaper type of alcohol lock could be tricked to react to acetone in exhaled breath.
“It reacts sometimes with other materials, like cigarette smoke,” she said, according to TT. “The more expensive alcohol locks … have a better reading and react only to alcohol. Police use this alcohol-measuring device.”
The police are not worried of the recent discovery.
“There isn’t a possibility that these (more advanced alcohol measurers) would react to acetone,” said Bengt Svensson, spokesman for The National Police Board, adding that he sees no risk for drunks to claim fasting as an excuse when pulled over.