155 drivers a day get driving ban for being under influence
Every day, the Belgian police imposes an average of 155 temporary driving bans on drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is most often the case in the province of Antwerp. The facts established are becoming increasingly serious. This is shown by figures form the federal police that MP, Sabien Lahaye-Battheu (Open Vld), requested from the Minister of the Interior, Jan Jambon (N-VA).
In 2016 agents withdrew the driving license of 56.671 drivers, or 155 per day, a little less than in 2015, when there were 172. Three out of five drivers had to hand in their driver’s license for six hours, one out of five three hours and another one out of five for twelve hours.
What is striking is the large differences between provinces. In Antwerp, the vast majority of licenses were withdrawn: 10.941. In Walloon Brabant, which has the lowest figures in Belgium, 1.612 drivers lost their driving licenses, in contrast to 6.176 drivers in Flemish Brabant. Brussels ‘scores’ 3.808. There were 8.637 cases in Hainaut and 7.900 in East Flanders, second and third after Antwerp. In Flanders, Limburg is at the bottom of the league, with 3.812 withdrawn licenses.
Apart from the regional differences, there is also an evolution in the seriousness of the facts. In 2015, only 9.979 drivers were on the side for 12 hours, in 2016 there were 11.181. “A worrying trend”, says Lahaye-Battheu. “The findings in the heaviest category are increasing. There is a shift, because in the lowest category they are decreasing.
The question is: is there more driving under heavy influence or is there more control? According to safety institute Vias, the first position is difficult to substantiate. It is clear, however, that the number of positive tests is also increasing, due to increasingly effective saliva checks. “The number of inspections is rising sharply, while the number of offenders is falling slightly in terms of percentage”, says spokesman, Stef Willems.
186 police districts
Lahaye-Battheu finds it now not possible that the differences between the provinces are so great. “This can not be explained by the number of drivers in a province”, she says. “In some provinces you are clearly more likely to hand in your license than in others. That should not be allowed. Enforcement policy should be more uniform. This must be imposed from above.
Minister of the Interior, Jan Jambon, defends the freedom of police zones and public prosecutors. “Belgium has 186 police districts. Even if I want to, I cannot just intervene in their policy. This local approach is part of our system. For example, some municipalities have a discotheque and you have to be able to respond to this locally.”
The duration of the driving ban is related to the degree of intoxication: 3 hours when between 0,5 and 0,8%; 6 hours when more than 0,8% and 12 hours when drug intoxication or drunkenness occurs.