There's a Silver Lining to This Nation's Drunk-Driving Problem

Latvia is sending confiscated vehicles to Ukraine to help it in its fight against Russia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2023 6:30 AM CST
Country Sends Drunk Drivers' Cars to Ukraine
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/ThamKC)

There's apparently a lot of drunk driving going on in Latvia, which claims some of the highest rates in Europe, and a good number of cars have ended up confiscated and languishing at state impound sites. That's thanks to a recently instituted law that allows for the government to take ownership of a vehicle if its driver had been driving at three times the legal limit for alcohol. Now, the nation has found a new home for those idle autos: Ukraine, where Latvia is transporting seized cars to to help that embattled country in its fight against Russia's invasion, per the BBC.

The UK broadcaster reports that the first convoy of vehicles, said by local media to be worth nearly $20,000, left the Latvian capital of Riga on Wednesday, under a deal greenlit by the Latvian parliament last month. About two dozen cars per week are to be sent to Ukrainian armed forces and hospitals under the plan. As impound lots began overflowing with hundreds of vehicles after the new drunk-driving law went into effect, Reinis Poznaks, the founder of an NGO that Gizmodo notes sends donated cars to Ukraine's front lines or to be used as ambulance transport, began brainstorming on what to do with all of the seized cars.

"They can't sell them as fast as people are drinking. So that's why I came [up] with the idea—send them to Ukraine," Poznaks, of NGO Twitter Convoy, tells Reuters, laughing that he'd found a Russian flag pinned by its former owner to one of the vehicles. The news agency notes that Twitter Convoy has already sent more than 1,200 vehicles and raised $2.1 million to buy up cars, make renovations, and handle logistics. As for Latvia's drinking-and-driving issue, cops there say at least 4,300 drivers were found to be intoxicated in 2022, with nearly 1,000 accidents that took place with drunk drivers behind the wheel. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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