03 Jan 2018

Not a single Maltese drove drunk on New Year's Eve

Malta, which is known for unreliable public transportation and the lack of alternatives such as Uber, is struggling to reduce driving under the influence. Was a police action on New Year's enough to break a national bad habit?

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Malta
Not a single Maltese drove drunk on New Year's Eve  - NewsMavens
Don't drink and drive. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

health, crime

A year ago a proposal circulated to reduce the maximum blood alcohol limit in Malta, which is the most generous in the EU. However, the project was widely deemed too 'radical'.

Additionally, the Times of Malta reported that a 2010 Eurobarometer study found 99% of Maltese drivers had no idea what the limit was, and 17% of local motorists drank every day.

“There is no conviction in Malta that drinking and driving do not go together. This is not because education or social campaigning is lacking. It is purely a question of police enforcement. The laws are there, but no one cares!”

said Francis J. Vassallo in The Times of Malta.

Two years ago, Vassalo, a survivor of a minor crash caused by a drunk driver, called on the authorities to take a stricter approach towards driving under the influence, suggesting road blocks during festive occasions.

In December 2017, a driving penalty point system was extended to all drivers. Two were caught drink-driving on Christmas Eve. However, despite over 1,800 checks, no one was caught on New Year's Eve. The police did not say how many drivers were breathalyzed. Police from the traffic section and from the Administrative Law Enforcement and dogs section carried out inspections on various roads in Malta.

Is it a mere coincidence or have the Maltese finally learned a lesson?

Details from the story:

  • Along with the UK, Malta has the most generous blood alcohol content limit in the EU at 0.8 g/l.
  • A governmental policy proposal suggests lowering it to 0.5 g/l (the EU average) and establishing zero alcohol tolerance for bus and taxi drivers on duty. The proposal was deemed 'radical'.
  • During the holiday season, 755 drivers were inspected on Christmas Eve and 1,832 on New Year's Eve.
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