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State Duma makes drunk driving criminal offense

December 16, 2014, 20:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian Criminal Code norms will be used if a driver is caught driving drunk for a second time over a year or refuses to undergo a medical examination

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© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Fadeichev

MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, on Tuesday adopted in the third, final, reading the bill on making drunk driving a criminal offense.

The document suggests that Russian Criminal Code norms be used if a driver is caught driving drunk for a second time over a year or refuses to undergo a medical examination.

First deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on constitutional legislation and state building Vyacheslav Lysakov explained to TASS that the bill defines recurrence of the offense proceeding from a yearlong period. If within a year an offender is caught, he will be judged in line with the Criminal Code, not the milder Administrative Offenses Code.

In line with the amendments, each case of repeated driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or refusal to undergo a medical test will be punished by a fine of 200,000-300,000 rubles ($2,770-$4,140), or community service of up to 480 hours, or compulsory labor for up to two years, or imprisonment for the same period. The sanctions are accompanied by a ban to hold certain posts for up to three years.

It is also said that in case of a deadly car accident blamed on the drunken driver, he will be imprisoned for 2-7 years, and if two or more people were killed — for 4-9 years.

“In comparison with deadly car accidents where drivers were sober, the minimum prison terms are substantially increased,” Lysakov said.

Currently, drivers who are drunk or who refuse to undergo a medical examination only face administrative responsibility — a 30,000 ruble ($414) fine and suspension of their driver’s licenses for 1.5-2 years. In case they are caught once again, the drivers face a maximum fine of up to 50,000 rubles ($692) and license suspension for up to three years.

The law, if it is approved by the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, and signed by the Russian president, will enter into force from July 1, 2015.

Some 30,000 people are annually killed in car accidents in Russia. The most widespread reasons for the accidents are a poor condition of roads as well as violations of traffic regulations: drunk driving, illegally crossing into the oncoming lane and running red lights.

Laws have been adopted recently to introduce tougher responsibility for the most serious violations of traffic regulations.

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