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Alcoholics in south Moravia

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Drivers in south Moravia should be able to drive with blood alcohol content of 0.3 permille (0.3 grams of alcohol for every 1,000 grams of blood; the current law is zero tolerance). This unusual proposal came in the run-up to October’s elections from KDU-ČSL candidate to the Chamber of Deputies Jiří Koliba, who says the residents of south Moravia are accustomed to alcohol.

This is a very far-sighted step during the financial crisis. If these Moravians, unlike citizens elsewhere, were allowed to drink behind the wheel, then certainly some people would remember that they have a grandma or a great aunt living somewhere in wine country. They would start visiting their relatives more frequently, making their kinfolk very happy. Sooner or later they would seek permanent residence in the region where police turn a blind eye toward drink driving.

This would raise the populations of towns in southern Moravia and bring more money to their coffers. Would-be MP Koliba and his colleagues in parliament then would not have to fight so much over subsidies to their regions, which looks so bad in the newspapers. By far the best part is that Koliba’s plan would not burden the state coffers either because the money would come from those who must drink and drive, never mind that a driver with 0.3 permille is seven time more likely to have an accident than someone who is sober.

According to Koliba, wine is a cultural tradition in south Moravia, and people there are used to it. But what about a new arrival in Moravia? Wouldn’t newcomers have less tolerance for alcohol than natives? Koliba should change his proposal and make the permissible blood alcohol levels proportionate to how long a driver has lived in south Moravia.

Koliba says that zero tolerance is nonsense and argues that 0.5 permille is permissible in Italy, where there are many headstones along the roads. If you visit Italy, you will notice that drivers do not deny themselves a glass of wine at lunch. It will all work out ok, they say. Czech statistics show just how well it works out: Every year, about 200 people die in the Czech Republic of the consequences of car accidents caused by alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption also affects one’s health, among other things. If Koliba says openly that people in Moravia drink more wine that people in other regions, maybe they should pay more for health insurance.

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