Brazil Targets Drink Driving on the Road to Fewer Deaths

Despite a longstanding commitment to improving road safety, Brazil’s numerous initiatives have suffered from weak enforcement. Tough new legislation backed by even tougher policing promises a new start. In February 2011, a traffic collision monitoring system was launched by Brazil’s justice ministry in collaboration with the Sangari Institute, a non-profit organization. The system found that between 1998 and 2008 the number of annual deaths on Brazil’s roads had increased by 20% (from 31,000 to 39,000). Within that steep increase were hidden some even more alarming trends, notably a fourfold increase in cyclist fatalities and more than a sevenfold leap in motorcycle deaths to nearly 9,000 in 2008. The principal victims were teenagers. To address both weak enforcement and drink-driving, the government pushed through new legislation in 2008. The Lei Seca (Dry Law) makes it a criminal offense to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration of 6 decigrams per liter or higher. The penalty for infringement is six months to three years imprisonment, although fines and driving bans can also apply. As currently applied, the law is even more stringent, setting the limit at 2 decigrams, well below international best practice, which requires a blood alcohol concentration limit of less than 5 decigrams per liter. Brazil is one of a handful of countries that has gone beyond the maximum recommended blood alcohol concentration limit to institute a stricter limit for the general population. This is an indication that drink-driving is taken seriously as an important problem. Passing legislation is one thing; enforcing it is another. While all of Brazil’s jurisdictions have embraced the law, only two have zealously enforced it. This article reports on the enforcement of the new legislation in Brazil.


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  • Accession Number: 01345815
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 28 2011 2:40PM