The alcohol limit for motorcyclists and new drivers will be cut by 75 per cent and all other motorists will only be allowed to consume almost half of what they can drink today.
In a bid to cut down on drink-driving, among other thing, a national alcohol policy being launched on Friday by the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity will reduce the blood alcohol content limit from 0.8g of alcohol per litre of blood to 0.5g for all drivers.
The 0.8g limit is the highest in Europe. On average, two drinks in the first hour raise a person’s BAC to 0.5g and one standard per hour subsequently will maintain that level.
For motorists with a driving licence issued less than two years earlier, motorcyclists, drivers of lorries weighing more than 3.5 tonnes or carrying dangerous goods, any passenger vehicle fitted with more than eight seats and taxis the limit will be set even lower, at 0.2g/l.
The policy, which will remain in force for the next five years, lists 23 actions in an attempt to reduce and prevent the negative consequences of alcohol on people, their families and society.
Drink-driving is the indisputable cause of a considerable number of deaths, temporary and permanent disability, hospitalisation and other negative consequences on Maltese roads, it notes. The strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable disease flags alcohol as a primary risk factor linked to chronic diseases such as heart and liver disease.
The national cancer plan identifies alcohol as increasing the risk of cancer.
As in a number of European countries, the consumption of alcohol in Malta has long been a part of the traditional culture. According to the latest general population survey conducted in 2014, seven in every 10 respondents consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months, a slight increase of 1.3 per cent over 2001. Almost three in every five reported to have had alcohol in the previous 30 days, up 2.6 per cent.
The national alcohol policy calls for the enforcement of legislation to tangibly limit the sale, purchase, consumption and supply of alcoholic products to those aged under 17.
However, although all sellers of alcoholic products will be required to display a clear and prominent notice about the prohibition of sale to minors, they are being instructed to request that purchasers provide evidence of having reached full legal age “in case of doubt”.
There will be harsher penalties for sellers and distributors found guilty of breaking the law. Malta will also see increased owner and server liability, where those providing alcohol might be held responsible for consequences of inappropriate practices such as serving alcohol to underage people.
The new policy also calls for a discussion with the authorities to introduce stronger physical environment criteria when it comes to overcrowding, proper access and exit requirements to places of entertainment and proper ventilation and hygiene.
▪ Ensure that penalties for drink-driving offences are increased.
▪ Introduce mandatory assessment, education and treatment for offenders.
▪ The distribution among minors of free alcoholic products, including brand-related paraphernalia will be prohibited.
▪ Alcohol manufacturers and retailers will set up a fund used for education campaigns.
▪ Necessary legislative support to enable law enforcement officers to carry out random breath testing and behavioural roadside tests as well as compulsory road testing following a road accident.
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