Ministry study confirms DUI punishments not working (3)

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
6/30/2015 2:02 PM
Category: Society

An analysis conducted by the Ministry of Justice found that current laws and practices have failed to impact drunk driving and new methods of punishment are needed.

The analysis found that those who repeatedly drink and drive are not deterred by current punishment practices. Current laws are geared towards a quick punishment, but the study suggests more focus should be put on offenders, their alcohol addiction, knowledge, attitude and experience.

A need for a nation-wide system for alcoholism treatment was highlighted. Such a system would be tied to the penal system. It would focus on individual offenders, assessing their risks and needs.

The analysis also weighed in on a law change in 2009, which changed the way the severity of a drunk driver is measured from the number of previous DUI (driving under the influence) convictions to the level of alcohol in the blood, meaning that from 2009, those who had drunk more began to receive more severe punishments, while previously those who were caught repeatedly for drinking and driving received harder punishments. The analysis found that largely, the 2009 changes have been successful.

Estonia saw a number of serious road accidents committed by drunk drivers a month ago. Politicians and officials began tackling the problem and besides the analysis, a bill has also been drafted which would send drunk drivers for psychological evaluation.

“This is not a magic cure, but various European states have found that the number of repeat traffic violations is 2-3-fold lower in nations where re-education for violators is done, compared to nations where there are no such programs,” Economy Minister Kristen Michal said at the beginning of June, when the bill was published.

According to police statistics, there are 4,000-6,000 drunk drivers on the streets of Estonia every day. Police have caught 3,000 drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the first five months of the current year.

J.M. Laats

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