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Italy ramps up penalties for DUI

Rules now in effect apply to everyone driving in the country

By SANDRA JONTZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 8, 2008

Penalties for violating Italy’s driving-under-the influence laws keep getting stiffer, including longer jail terms and the confiscation of vehicles.

Fed up with the number of drunken-driving incidents, Italian government officials have imposed the penalties to bring down the number of traffic casualties, said to be one of the highest in Europe. The changes went into effect in May.

Police can confiscate the vehicles of motorists who drive under the influence of drugs or whose blood alcohol levels exceed 0.15, according to changes made to Italy’s Article 4 "rules of the road." Those motorists also face up to a year in jail.

The confiscation can be permanent if a person is convicted of the infraction, unless the vehicle belongs to someone else. Confiscated vehicles can be auctioned off or used by the police, according to information provided by Italy’s Ministry of Interior.

The changes follow the adoption of stiffer penalties last summer. Anyone who drives in the country is subject to the law.

Other penalties for those driving under the influence in Italy include:

  • A blood-alcohol level of more than 0.05 percent is considered legally intoxicated. Drivers with a level of 0.05 to 0.08 face fines ranging from 500 euros to 2,000 euros, one month confinement, and community service.
  • Drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 to 0.15 face up to six months of jail — an increase of three months over last summers’ changes — fines ranging from 800 euros to 3,200 euros, and community service.
  • Those driving under the influence of drugs face up to a year in jail and a fine of 1,500 euros to 6,000 euros.
  • Drivers refusing to have their blood-alcohol tested face fines from 2,500 euros to 10,000 euros.
  • Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs who flee the scene of an accident in which there are injuries, or those who stop but fail to help anyone injured as the result of the accident, face up to three years in jail.

Though not related to the Italian government’s stiffer penalties, the U.S. Navy has again launched its annual information campaign, "Critical Days of Summer," which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day — historically when most alcohol incidents occur.

Navy Region Europe started an effort three years ago to distribute key-chain Breathalyzers, and has distributed more than 5,000 to sailors in Europe. Surveys showed that 63 percent of those who self-tested positive for being over legal driving limits made other arrangements for transportation or decided not to drive, said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, spokeswoman for the command.

The Navy base in Naples, Italy, recorded a 33 percent reduction in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents between 2006 and last year during the "critical days of summer," she said.