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Working group: Stricter sanctions for drink-driving offences

Working group: Stricter sanctions for drink-driving offences

Press release 20.02.2012 11.40 fi sv en

Having examined the use the alcohol ignition interlock, the alcolock working group proposes that the minimum duration of driving bans imposed for drink-driving offences be extended. This would ensure that driving bans better correspond to the reprehensible nature of drink-driving and the danger it poses, along with relevant international regulation.

The working group also recommends that the opportunity for a conditional driving ban without supervision of the right to drive through an alcolock device be abolished. In addition, the working group considers that a person who has been banned from driving for a continuous duration of at least one year should only be returned their right to drive upon completion of a new driving examination.

According to the working group, imposing stricter sanctions for drink-driving would increase the use of an alcolock-controlled right to drive as an alternative to imposing a driving ban. Action should be taken to ensure more permanent use of the alcolock, making the device not only a punishment method but also a tool for guiding driving behaviour.

The working group would also develop the alcolock imposition procedure as part of assessing whether a person fulfils the health requirements for a driving licence. The state of health of drink-driving offenders, in particular, would be examined more thoroughly than at present, with a focus on whether the health requirements for a driving licence are met. If indicated necessary by the examination, an obligation to use the alcolock would be marked on the person's driving licence. It could only be removed if a medical statement proves that the driver's substance use no longer poses a danger to traffic.

As for persons repeatedly found guilty of aggravated drink-driving, the working group proposes that the right to drive be supervised through the alcolock for a minimum duration of two years. The alcolock-controlled right to drive is always subject to the consent of the drink-driving offender in question.

- I consider the working group's proposals good. We need to send a clear message that drink-driving is a serious offence, and the sanctions must demonstrate this. If we can reduce drink-driving with technical equipment, we need to put the measures available to us into use. I welcome the idea that the alcolock would be standard equipment in new vehicles in the future, Minister of Transport Ms Merja Kyllönen says.

In January 2011, the Ministry of Transport and Communications appointed a working group to examine whether the use of an alcohol ignition interlock (alcolock) could be broadened in drink-driving cases. The remit of the working group was based on Government policy lines according to which, as a measure aimed at improving traffic safety, all drink-driving offenders should be imposed an obligation to use the alcolock in order to maintain their right to drive.
The working group was chaired by Mr Tero Jokilehto, Director of the Transport Market Unit at the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Ministry of Justice submitted a dissenting statement to the report.

Alcolock is already partially mandatory

An alcolock-controlled right to drive was tested in Finland between 2005 and 2008. Encouraged by the good results, an alcolock driving licence was made a fixed practice for drink-driving offenders in 2008. In August 2011, the alcolock became mandatory on all chartered school and kindergarten transport.

Finland has proposed that the EU should be active towards the car industry so as to make the alcolock standard equipment in new vehicles.

The working group's report is available in Finnish on the website of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, www.lvm.fi (Imposing the alcolock as a condition for the right to drive for drink-driving offenders; Publications of the Ministry of Transport and Communications 3/2012)

Further information:
Mr Tero Jokilehto, Senior Specialist, Chair of the working group, tel. +358 9 160 28568, +358 40 535 0574
Mr Janne Mänttäri, Senior Officer, Secretary to the working group, tel. +358 9 160 28569, +358 40 069 3544