Current punishments for drunk drivers not harsh enough, says Reinsalu

Punishments for repeat drunk driving were most recently made harsher in 2017. Behind these efforts were then-justice minister and current foreign affairs minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).

Speaking to ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Sunday, Reinsalu said that the punishments currently in force for drunk drivers aren't harsh enough.

"I definitely think it's worth revisiting my comprehensive package of proposals from when I was minister of justice," he said. "At the time, a united front of officials and some politicians formed, and it was even said in the media that Reinsalu wants to lynch drunk drivers."

According to the minister, however, reality has shown that the previous conditional sentencing of the driver who caused Saturday's deadly car crash in Saaremaa produced zero results.

According to the media's information, the driver responsible for the crash had previously been punished both for drunk driving and for evading a law enforcement officer, most recently conditionally.

"If we're talking about recidivist individuals, then I believe that conditional sentences should not apply to them," Reinsalu said.

He added that opposition at the time did not allow him to implement these changes, but said that the babying of recidivist individuals, i.e. convicted criminals who reoffend, needs to come to an end.

"If they get behind the wheel again, they need to actually sit in prison for some time," Reinsalu said.

MP Jaanus Karilaid (Center), chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, said that the harshening of punishments has been discussed in the committee for years, and added that shock incarcerations can be employed even now.

According to Karilaid, cooperation is necessary with the Ministry of Social Affairs regarding how to get people with alcohol problems into treatment.

"Such incidents inevitably force us to increasingly consider our opportunities, and this opportunity exists in some EU member states," he said. "It is in society's interests that we arrange for compulsory treatment and eradicate this problem in people."

Some 4,000 drunk drivers are out on Estonian roads every day, Karilaid added.

Two women, infant killed in Saturday crash

A serious car crash caused by a speeding drunk driver occurred at the 128th kilometer of Risti-Virtsu-Kuivastu Highway on the Western Estonian island of Saaremaa on Saturday afternoon in which two women and a nine-month-old baby were killed.

Police were notified at approximately 2:45 p.m. on Saturday that an Audi had crashed into a Volvo that had stopped in order to make a left turn at the 128th kilometer of Risti-Virtsu-Kuivastu Highway in the village of Masa.

According to the police, the driver of the Audi was drunk, confirming that his blood alcohol content (BAC) was initially measured to be 3.7 promilles.

According to initial information, the collision occurred when the 34-year-old man driving the Audi toward Kuivastu, whose speed had been measured by radar gun some 10 kilometers prior as 138 kilometers per hour, attempted to pass a Volvo driving ahead of him, but instead crashed into the Volvo as it was making a left turn. Both vehicles drove off the road after impact.

The 27-year-old woman driving the Volvo and a 58-year-old woman and nine-month-old baby in the vehicle died in the crash. The driver of the Audi and a 37-year-old woman riding in the Volvo were taken to a hospital in Tallinn for treatment, where they both remain in critical condition.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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