The Civic Democrats have come out with a new amendment to the Czech driving legislation, which would allow drivers to have up to two lagers before taking the wheel. They hope to table the proposal at the next session of the Chamber of Deputies, but there appears to be scant support for the idea in the lower house.
This roughly translates to having a glass of wine or two so-called ‘desítky’, the Czech term for a light lager that has an alcohol percentage between 3,5 – 4,3 percent.
Civic Democrat leader Petr Fiala says that the policy merely follows the Czech Republic’s pro-Western orientation.
“We belong to the few European countries where there is a zero tolerance to alcohol for drivers. In most countries, including Germany and Austria, a small level of tolerance has shown itself as functional. Therefore, we are proposing a certain level of tolerance for drivers in our country as well. There is no reason for us to have different rules.”
The party claims its proposal does not come out of the blue. Rather, it follows an amendment to the Inland Navigation Law passed a few weeks earlier, which received broad approval in the Chamber of Deputies, including votes from the ruling ANO Party.
That amendment established the same 0.5 per mille tolerance level for so-called ‘vodáci’ – a term used for those indulging in the popular Czech summer pastime of boat riding.
However, resistance to the idea seems to be much stronger when it comes to letting drivers have a sip too.
ANO deputy Dr. Rostislav Vyzula, who sits in the Committee on Health Care, told Czech Radio what his feelings were on the proposed amendment.
“It would not be appropriate at the moment. Our citizens are not ready for it and it could lead to a rise in alcohol consumption among drivers.”
Party member Miroslav Kalousek tweeted on Thursday that “no one on a canoe goes at the speed of 130 kilometres an hour”, referring to the Czech highway speed limit.
However, the Civic Democrats are unwilling to drop the idea. The head of the party’s deputies’ club Zbyněk Stanjura told Czech Radio there were ways to motivate drivers not to exceed the limit.
“As soon as the Chamber of Deputies would pass the law, a series of tougher regulations should also be put in force. For example in the speed of driving license revocation, in the points system of driving penalties or the amount drivers would have to pay in fines. We are ready for such a debate.”
The Civic Democrats are hoping to table the proposed amendment at the next session of the Chamber of Deputies which starts on April 16th.
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