A new law means the most dangerous drink drivers will now have to pass a medical before they are allowed back on the roads.
High risk offenders will need to prove they are no longer alcohol depenedent at the end of their disqualification period. These include people convicted of two drink driving offences within 10 years and those convicted of being two-and-a-half times the legal limit.
The changes, announced by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond, will come into force next month.
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 driving licence. Evidence suggests that some high risk offenders delay their medical in order to continue driving.
The changes also mean that drink drivers who refuse to give permission for a blood sample to be analysed will now be High Risk Offenders. This means that they will only get their licence back following disqualification if they pass the required medical.
Mr 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.
“These changes will tighten up the law on drink driving and will mean that 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 treated the same as other high risk offenders.”