Drunk driving is frowned upon in most jurisdictions around the world, with typical penalties ranging from fines to loss of license. In the shadow of war, Latvia has instituted a rather more unusual penalty. The country is now seizing cars from drunk drivers and shipping them off to Ukraine.
As reported by Reuters, Latvia recently updated its drunk driving laws. The new measures allowed the government to seize vehicles from drivers caught at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.15, a full three times the legal limit of 0.05. Since coming into effect at the start of this year, authorities seized over 200 vehicles in just two months. Impound lots were filling up faster than the authorities could sell vehicles, so the decision was made to provide the vehicles to the Ukrainian war effort instead.
Twitter Convoy is a Latvian NGO that has been tasked with delivering seized vehicles to Ukraine. Also known as Agendum, the organization was founded shortly after the start of the Russian invasion to help provide vehicles to Ukraine.
Twitter Convoy started delivering vehicles to Ukraine shortly after the outbreak of hostilities last year. Twitter/@Gerashchenko_en
The effort has delivered roughly 1,200 vehicles to date thanks to donations of money and vehicles from across the globe. Now, Latvian authorities have promised to provide the group with approximately two dozen cars a week from its seized inventory to support its efforts, according to founder Reinis Poznaks. It’s a big help, but delivering the influx of vehicles is set to push Poznaks’ volunteer organization to the limit.
“No one expected that people are drunk-driving so many vehicles, they can’t sell them as fast as people are drinking. So that’s why I came with the idea – send them to Ukraine,” Poznaks said. The organization is already hard at work, as Wednesday saw seized cars leave a government impound lot on a truck ultimately bound for Ukraine. In an ironic twist, one of the seized vehicles had a Russian flag pinned inside, to the amusement of Poznaks. According to Latvian sources quoted by the BBC, the eight vehicles had a combined value of roughly €18,500 ($19,600).
Many of the cars delivered to Ukrainian forces have a limited life on the front, but some manage to tough it out. Facebook/Agendum
Vehicles supplied by Twitter Convoy go on to a wide variety of uses in Ukraine. Some are used as ambulances to evacuate the wounded, while others are used by the military on the front lines or in general transport roles. According to the group, there is a huge demand for off-road capable vehicles, particularly pickup trucks, but a variety of other vehicles are also processed and delivered by the organization. Civilian-spec vehicles often have a short lifespan in the war, but the group estimates that each vehicle donated saves anywhere from 10 to 100 lives.
Speaking on the effort, Latvian Finance Minister Arvils Aseradens told Reuters that the ongoing success of Twitter Convoy’s efforts inspired the decision to donate the vehicles rather than auction them. “We are ready to do practically anything to support Ukrainians,” said Aseradens.
Given the prevalence of drunk driving in the country, it’s unsurprising that Latvia is taking bold new measures to tackle the problem. Over 4,300 drivers were caught over the limit on the country’s roads last year alone. Using the seized vehicles to help out a neighboring country in a time of crisis just makes perfect sense.
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