ROME (Reuters) - Italy has begun confiscating the cars of people driving under the effect of drugs or alcohol in the latest attempt to lower one of western Europe’s highest rates of road casualties.
Two drivers in their early 20s, a woman under the influence of alcohol and a man who had smoked a cannabis joint, have had their cars seized in northern Italy since the legislation came into effect at the end of last month.
The new legislation states that any driver who tests positive for any illegal drug or has blood alcohol levels exceeding set limits can have their car confiscated, as well as toughening fines and jail sentences.
The cars are to be auctioned off or used by the police, as is already the case for vehicles confiscated from mafia offenders and drug dealers.
Breathalyzer testing is not frequent in Italy, where 5,669 people died on the roads in 2006, the most recent data available. National statistics bureau ISTAT said the authorities must focus on curbing drunken driving to make the roads safer.