Brazil Finds Drunk-Driving Law Tough to Swallow

Home of carnival balks at cultural shift; corruption, lack of funds also hinder effort
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Dec 23, 2008 3:20 PM CST
Police officers pull drivers over to check their alcohol levels in Brasilia, Brazil.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Brazilians have mixed feelings about recently adopted drunken-driving laws that threaten to undermine their carnival lifestyle. The 0.02% alcohol limit—much stricter than America’s 0.08%—aims to curb the 35,000 deaths that occur on Brazil’s roads annually. But with just 900 breathalyzers for a nation of 200 million, police have had more than a few hiccups in getting the debauchery under control, the Washington Post reports.

After six months and some 5,000 citations issued, stats don’t show the roads being safer. Some drivers complain the “unconstitutional” law merely gives police a way to take bribes. But the crackdown has helped Brazil clean up its act: Sao Paulo has introduced night buses, beer-makers have subsidized taxi fares, and restaurants started stringing up hammocks for the imbibed.