Police seize 30 cars per week for drunk driving in Latvia

Last year, criminal liability was introduced in Latvia for driving a vehicle while heavily intoxicated, meaning that the car could be seized or the value of the car had to be repaid. Still, an average of 30 drunk drivers' cars are seized and added to the Provision State Agency's car fleet every week, Latvian Television reported on July 12.

Since November last year, criminal proceedings on drunk driving have been initiated against 635 people. More than two-thirds of them had to part from their vehicle.

These cars come into the parking lot of the Provision State Agency and wait to see whether they will be sent to Ukraine or under the responsibility of the State Revenue Service. The Service shall then assess whether to auction or scrap the car.

Since the law's amendments came into force on November 25 last year, a little over two thousand tipsy drivers were caught by the end of June this year, including those 'lightly' intoxicated (under the 1.5 promille threshold where criminal liability applies). This is 400 drunk drivers less than in the corresponding period of 2021/2022.

Arturs Smilga, deputy chief of the State Police Traffic Safety Board, said that “it would be too early to judge these results, it should take some time to say that these amendments have actually had benefits or not.” A total of 432 vehicles have been seized.

"Unfortunately, we have not met our expectations that people could become more obedient to the law and, simply speaking, not drink while behind the wheel, because the statistics, I think, are extreme at the moment, it's an average of 30 cars a week that are, so to say, wasted away. And this apparatus [of seizing and auctioning] cannot catch up with the number of drinkers," said Jānis Nebars, head of the Provision State Agency resources management.

In the agency's parking areas, the situation is critical, with more than 90% of parking areas filled. In the lots of Madona, Ludza, and Kuldīga, there is no room for seized cars at all.

A third of the cars seized from drunk drivers have been handed over to Ukraine. In the near future, the Twitter convoy will receive another 22 vehicles to prepare them and send them to Ukraine.

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