Drivers found intoxicated behind the wheel on Russia’s roads could face having their car confiscated under radical new rules. The country now has one of the most no-nonsense approaches to the issue in the world.
In an interview with the Russia-1 news channel, Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev said his department has “initiated the confiscation of motor vehicles in cases [where people are] repeatedly driving in a drunken state.”
“Society pays too high a price for alcohol consumption while driving,” he added. Repeat offenders can expect fines of up to 300,000 roubles (around $4,000), 480 hours of community service, or imprisonment of up to two years under the drink driving laws.
Russia already has some of the strictest drink-driving laws of any country. Plans had been discussed to make consumption of any amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel a crime. However, given the sensitivity of testing equipment and the potential for false-positives due to some foods and medicines, the acceptable rate has been set as 0.16 milligrams of alcohol in one liter of exhaled air, or 0.35 grams of alcohol in one liter of blood.
In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin also upped sentences for drivers implicated in fatal collisions while under the influence, almost matching them to the penalties for intentional murders. Punishments include up to 15 years in prison.
Last year, 17,000 Russians died on the country’s roads, making the fatality rate higher than in many other developed countries. Alcohol is thought to play a role in this and Russia once had a deserved reputation for heavy drinking. However, since 2003, the amount of alcohol consumed in the country has steadily dropped by around 43 per cent, after Putin introduced laws to restrict sales.
Russian acting legend Mikhail Efremov made headlines earlier this year when, while heavily intoxicated, he was involved in a fatal crash that left another driver dead. He is currently serving seven and a half years in prison for the crime.
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