European Commission proposes total alcohol ban for novice drivers

European Commission proposes total alcohol ban for novice drivers
Police officer breathalyses driver. Credit: Belga

The European Commission is proposing a zero tolerance on alcohol for new drivers, which would forbid drinking any alcohol at all before driving for the first two years after obtaining their licence.

While young people make up only 8% of all drivers, approximately two in five fatal accidents on European roads involve a driver under 30. To tackle the issue, the Commission wants to establish a temporary zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving as part of a package of measures to increase road safety across the EU.

"New figures released last week showed that road deaths in the EU are not decreasing fast enough to hit the crucial target of halving deaths and serious injuries by 2030. So it is good to see the EU get serious about road safety today," said Graziella Jost, Director of Projects at the European Transport Safety Council. "Today’s driving license proposals include an important measure to keep novice drivers safer and we hope Member States will also build on these measures."

The measure presents a mandatory probation period of at least two years for novice drivers, during which they will be expected to have a 0.0 blood-alcohol level when they are checked. EU Member States will be able to set fines, and may also extend that probation period beyond two years.

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"Member States will also now have the power to ensure that a wider range of driving offences committed by non-resident drivers can be followed up across borders," Jost said. "That’s welcome, as is the new possibility for driving disqualifications to apply across the EU. It is now up to Member States and the European Parliament to ensure this package does not get watered down on the often treacherous road to becoming law."

The Commission's proposal is part of a wider package of measures on road safety, which would include introducing new offences – such as dangerous parking, dangerous overtaking and insufficient distance keeping – in all Member States to better protect pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of mopeds and motorbikes.

The Commission also wants to introduce a digital driving licence, which would be the first of its kind worldwide.

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