An estimated 4,000 intoxicated drivers are on Estonian roads every day, of which just 10-30, or about 1-2%, are caught and removed from traffic, the Ministry of Justice stated in its explanations to a bill to introduce stricter penalties for drunk driving.
Roughly 3,000 criminally intoxicated drivers were caught every year, the ministry wrote, and another 3,000 with a blood alcohol content of up to 1.5‰.
The ministry pointed to research conducted in Finland according to which every intoxicated driver makes 230 trips on average before getting caught.
Up to 20% of drunk drivers are repeat offenders. This number increases with the amount consumed before driving, the ministry reported.
The police aimed for at least 700,000 checks in 2015. The actual number of tests performed was 889,701, 21% more than planned.
In 2013, 22 people died in accidents related to drunk driving. This number was down to 15 in 2014, and 14 in 2015. Last year, one fifth of traffic deaths were related to alcohol abuse.
New bill: Passengers are responsible as well
The Ministry of Justice also found that while so far the main attention had concentrated on the drivers, passengers also carried responsibility for potential fatal accidents due to drunk driving. Hence its new bill, which would enter into force in early 2017, specifies that all passengers over the age of 18 are legally obliged to keep intoxicated people from driving.
The new law would also make it illegal to get in to a car the driver of which shows signs of intoxication.
Furthermore, the bill introduces mandatory prison sentences for repeat offenders as well as revoking driver’s licenses.
The bill also introduces tailored measures to predict individual potential for repeated drunk driving. That way, the ministry hopes, solutions can be found that are effective in single cases and don’t treat every offender the same way.
With Midsummer approaching, the topic of drunk driving is becoming relevant again, and if you’re out on the road between tomorrow and Sunday, you can expect to come across police patrols performing breathalyzer tests.
Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn