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European edition, Thursday, August 23, 2007

NAPLES, Italy — Penalties for violating Italy’s drunken driving and speeding laws recently became a lot stiffer as the Italian government responded to a rash of alcohol-related incidents, many fatal, this summer.

Anyone who drives in this country is subject to Italian law — and as such, the U.S. military launched information campaigns this week, reminding members of safety standards and alerting them of the stiffer penalties.

Between July 13 and 15, one of the deadliest weekends, Italian officials reported 36 fatalities on Italy’s roadways. Not all were caused by drunken drivers. Between Aug. 10 and Aug. 16, however, four people reportedly were killed by drunken drivers, according to Italian news reports, including a pedestrian run over in Genoa.

Fed up with the number of drunken driving incidents, Italian government officials imposed harsher penalties and other programs to serve as deterrents. Some cities such as Milan put breath analyzers in some nightclubs, and others instituted reward programs for designated drivers.

Italian ministries of transportation, interior and justice and health introduced the penalty increases, which went into effect Aug. 3. While the changes currently are in effect, they are going through a 60-day trial period and still are subject to approval by Italy’s parliament.

“I’m a zero-tolerance person. ... If you drive drunk, you are driving understanding you have voluntarily chosen to impact your judgment,” said Capt. Floyd Hehe, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Naples.

That’s not to say people shouldn’t drink, he added, only that they need to drink responsibly and ensure they don’t get behind the wheel of a car.

A blood-alcohol level of more than 0.05 percent is considered legally intoxicated in Italy.

This week, military members across Italy will see and hear warning messages via base publications, on Armed Forces Network television and radio spots and from their leaders, said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, spokeswoman for Navy region Europe.

Changes to road rules in Italy

Driving under the influenceDrivers with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.08 face:n fines ranging from 500 euros to 2,000 eurosn suspension of driver’s license for three months to six monthsn one month confinementn community service

Drivers with a blood-alcohol level between 0.08 and 0.15 face:n fines ranging from 800 euros to 3,200 eurosn suspension of driver’s license for six months to one yearn confinement of up to three monthsn community service

Drivers with a blood-alcohol level exceeding 0.15 face:n up to a 6,000 euro finen suspension of driver’s license for up to two yearsn confinement of up to six monthsn community serviceDrivers refusing to have their blood-alcohol tested face fines from 2,500 euros to 10,000 euros.

Drivers operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs face:n fines ranging from 1,000 euros to 4,000 eurosn suspension of driver’s license for six months to one yearn confinement of up to three monthn community service

Fines for anyone driving under the influence involved in a traffic accident increased from 3,000 euros to 12,000 euros.

Those caught driving without a valid license face fines from 2,257 euros to 9,032 euros.

Speedingn Speeds exceeding limits by 40 kilometers per hour to 60 kilometers per hour face fines ranging from 370 euros to 1,458 euros and suspension of driving privileges from three months to six months.n Speeds exceeding limits by more than 60 kilometers per hour face fines ranging from 500 euros to 2,000 euros and suspension from six months to 12 months.

Use of cell phones

Talking and driving is not permitted unless drivers use the speaker phone or ear pieces. Violators face fines of 148 euros to 594 euros.

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