Colombia’s National Transit Police is reporting that driving accidents attributed to alcohol have fallen 46%, including a 62% decrease in deaths and 45% in serious injury, following the implementation of countrywide roadside sobriety tests, according to national media reports Tuesday.
Transit Police Director Carlos Ramiro said the department had performed nearly 493,000 alcohol tests since December 19, 2013, following the ratification of an anti-drunk driving law by Congress. During that time, police found a reported 3,869 drivers under the influence of alcohol.
Of those 3,869 drivers, 169 were women, representing 4% of the total drunk drivers, while men accounted for 3,700, a total of 96%, of the intoxicated drivers pulled over by the police.
Colombia’s Congress, in an effort to improve road safety, has taken an aggressive stance against drunk driving, raising punishments to include fines of up to $15,000 USD, 20 hours of community service, and a possible 25-year license suspension.
Ongoing since the holiday season, the police have set up sobriety check-points throughout the country in an effort to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) delegate in Colombia, Teofilo Monteiro, told the Sun Daily that the new fines, combined with visible checkpoints, have a psychological effect on drivers who might otherwise drive after drinking.
“People are going to be very careful not to be hit with such a big fine,” Monteiro said to the Malaysian newspaper. “The main thing is to set up checkpoints.”