From October 1st, cyclists caught whilst drunk on a public highway, or immediately thereafter, will not automatically lose their driving licence. The possibility remains, but judges will now consider whether it is appropriate to apply the penalty.
Up until now cyclists finding themselves in this situation were at risk of, apart from a fixed fine, the removal of their driving licence. Some hundreds of instances of this nature per year resulted in a court case, and in the withdrawal of the driving licence for a month. This was according to estimates by the Open Vld deputy, Sabien Lahaye-Battheu, upon the introduction of the new law.
As alluded to earlier, the judge in a given case will now consider whether it is actually appropriate to withdraw the driving licence. Ms Lahaye-Battheu says that the punishent which applied to the offence up until now was not proportionate to the crime. She goes on, “Moreover, in any event, for those without a driving licence, obviously the step of removing the driving licence could never be applied.”
The Brussels Times