Along with Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, the Czech Republic is one of the few countries in Europe that enforces a zero tolerance policy for drinking alcohol and driving: for drivers, any BAC (blood alcohol content) levels measured over 0% are subject to legal consequences.
Talk of raising the zero tolerance policy for drinking & driving has been bubbling for years, however. Because of imperfections in the standard way of measuring BAC – through a breathalyzer – an unofficial level of BAC is currently tolerated; in addition, low BAC levels are tolerated in most other European countries.
Now, Czech MPs from the ODS party have introduced a formal proposal.
“I see no reason for a decent Czech citizen not to have a small beer,” said ODS chief Petr Fiala, as reported by iDnes.cz.
“Let’s get this closer to this Western Europe.”
The new proposal comes after a similar measure for kayakers. A current zero tolerance policy for drinking & rowing on the Czech rivers was recently overturned by Czech MPs, and now awaits a vote in the Senate.
The new proposal would increase the tolerance for BAC level to .05%, matching the proposal for kayakers and putting in line with Czech neighbors Germany and Austria, who also have a .05% BAC tolerance for drinking & driving.
To illustrate their point, ODS pointed to a low accident numbers attributed to drunk driving in German and Austrian territories close to the Czech borders.
“We are among the few countries in Europe with zero tolerance for alcohol at the wheel,” Fiala added.”
“In most European countries, including neighboring Germany or Austria, tolerance has worked smoothly over the long term. Therefore, we propose to introduce a [BAC] tolerance of .05%.”
“I believe that we deserve this degree of freedom and I believe that we can be as responsible as most Europeans. When the French, the Spanish, the Italians or the Latvians manage it, we can do it.”
Along with the increase in BAC tolerance, however, MPs also propose a related increase in punishment for those who exceed the limit.
“With greater freedom, of course, there should also be adequate responsibility, so we want to propose stricter penalties for those who exceed the blood alcohol allowance under the wheel,” said former Czech Minister of Transport Zbyněk Stanjura, who also backs the new proposal.