All new cars must be fitted with so-called alcolocks, breathalysing systems aimed at stopping drink-drivers from hitting the road, by 2022.
The European Council approved the measure in March and said cars currently on the roads will have to have the breathalysers fitted by 2024.
British drivers will have to comply after the government said it would follow EU rules post-Brexit, but it is unclear how it will be implemented.
‘These new rules will help us to reduce significantly the number of fatalities and severe injuries,’ said Timo Harakka, European Council member.
The alcolocks are among a slew of technologies also set to be introduced at the same time.
It includes the fitting of Intelligent Speed Assistance limiters, which prevent drivers from going too fast, though they can be overridden in emergency situations, as well as autonomous emergency brakes, lane-keep assist, driver fatigue detection and reversing cameras.
‘Speed limiters will still be voluntary so you don’t have to use them but they could save your licence,’ said Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart.
He went on: ‘Although all new cars from 2022 will be enabled to have an alcolock it will be up to the UK government to decide how they are used.
‘We see them as a useful tool for repeat drink-drive offenders to get them back to safe driving after a ban.’
Greig said: ‘It is very unlikely that the vast majority of the law-abiding public will ever have to blow in a tube to start their car.
‘Other ideas such as having an event data recorder in every car will make claims after a bump much easier.’
The number of drivers arrested while under the influence of drink and drugs rose by 17% in the first two months of 2019, according to the Road Safety Authority.
‘Drink driving is drink driving whether it is at midnight or midday and any drink drivers detected with a blood alcohol concentration between 50mg and 80mg face losing their license for three months,’ warned Shane Ross, Ireland’s minister for transport.