Stricter rules drunk driving in Belgium: at 1,2% driving license lost

From 1 June, Belgium is lowering the threshold for immediate revocation of the driving license of those drunk behind the wheel. The standard then lowers from 1,5% to 1,2%. This was announced by Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo). The measure will come into force on 1 June.

To tackle alcohol behind the wheel even more effectively, Gilkinet, together with the Ministers of Justice and of the Interior, will thus lower the threshold for the immediate revocation of driving licenses to 1,2%.

Recidivism will also be dealt with more strictly

Gilkinet also indicated during the weekly question hour in parliament that his ambition is to further amend the Highway Code with a better balance on the road between active road users and motorists. And also to further step up the fight against recidivism. “We cannot tolerate disrespectful road pirates,” the Minister said.

Mere eyewash

The Association of Parents of Road Crash Children calls the stricter threshold for the immediate revocation of the driving license of those who are drunk behind the wheel a mere eyewash. The association thinks this sends a weak message and is pushing for zero tolerance in traffic.

“1,2% is also far too much,” says Koen Van Wonterghem, managing director of the non-profit organization Parents of Road Crash Children. “Revoking licenses of drivers with that much % does not raise awareness. It is incomprehensible: you send the signal that up to 1,2% it is, therefore, still okay to drink.”

According to the association, zero tolerance for alcohol behind the wheel is the only solution. “Personal freedom ends where that of others begins,” Van Wonterghem says. The Flemish Road Safety Forum also recommended introducing a zero limit for alcohol in traffic back in 2019. Many European countries have lower standards than Belgium.

Ensuring more chances of being caught

On the other hand, the traffic safety institute Vias and the Flemish Foundation for Transport Studies (VSV) welcome the lower threshold for immediate revocation of the driving license of those drunk behind the wheel.

Vias Institute calls the stricter thresholds for immediate withdrawal of driving license a step in the right direction. Still, the measure is only part of the story, according to the traffic safety institute. “There must also be sufficient chances of being caught,” says Stef Willems, spokesperson for Vias Institute. “We also need to address social norms about alcohol behind the wheel: we remain a country of counters.” Apart from the stricter rule, both Vias and the VSV favor zero tolerance behind the wheel where alcohol or drugs are concerned.

Driving license revoked for at least 15 days

From an alcohol level of 0,5% in Belgium, you will be fined 179 euros and temporarily banned from driving for at least three hours. The public prosecutor can also revoke the driving license from that standard for dangerous driving.

Those with more alcohol in their blood risk being summoned to the police court and can be fined up to 16 000 euros.

In June, apart from a fine, drivers with less than 1,2% will still receive a temporary driving ban of at least six hours. The driving license of drivers caught with 1,2% is then immediately revoked for 15 days. However, the public prosecutor’s office can extend that revocation.


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