New Russian driving laws: no alcohol when driving and no U-turns

(11 September 2012; Moscow) Fresh from their summer recess, the Russian Duma (parliament) is pressing for passage of a total ban on alcohol when driving. The bill had passed the lower Duma prior to the summer break but still needs approval of the upper assembly, the Federation Council, and when signed by President Putin will replace existing rules which allow low alcohol levels for drivers on Russian roads.

The State Duma speaker’s office reported that recent laws tightening the screws on drunk driving had proved effective, citing statistics from 2010 when new rules slowed “the number of car accidents caused by drink drivers by 11% and the number of those killed in such accidents dropped 35%.” The current law provides penalties that suspend drivers’ licenses along with 15 days in jail.

Russian ambulances are often called to respond to emergencies.

The new law will also allow drunk driving convictions based on traffic video cameras but the penalties for convictions based on video evidence will be less than those whose convictions were obtained by direct intervention of Russian traffic police. Current fines average around 3,000 rubles, the equivalent of $95 US dollars. The new law would raise video related fines to 5,000 rubles, or $158 US dollars.

Russian news service RIANovosti reported that an amendment has been added to the bill envisioning that people making illegal U-turns will from now on be punished by the suspension of their driver’s licenses for up to 6 months. Under current laws U-Turn offenders are fined up to 1,500 rubles but licenses are not suspended.