The Malta Independent 10 April 2020, Friday

Blood alcohol content limits to be made stricter for all motorists

Jeremy Micallef Friday, 2 November 2018, 13:45 Last update: about 2 years ago

The National Alcohol Policy aims to cut down on abuse by reducing the acceptable Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for drivers, addressing underage drinking in Malta, and the harmful use by members of the public.

Launched Friday by Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights, and Social Solidarity, the newly introduced policy will significantly reduce the BAC for new drivers, motorcyclists, drivers of lorries, and taxis or any passenger vehicle fitted with more than eight passenger seats by 75%.

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This will go hand in hand with a reduction in BAC for all other drivers, specifically from 0.8g/l to 0.5g/l, and down to 0.2g/l for the aforementioned groups of motorists.

Malta’s 0.8g/l limit is the highest in Europe, and as little as two drinks in the first hour could raise a person’s BAC to 0.5g/l. One drink per hour would be required to maintain that level.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Michael Falzon said that while this policy recognizes the fact that people are still going to consume alcohol, it seeks to address the important issues of underage drinking as well as irresponsible and excessive drinking by adults.

“This Ministry will thus be adopting a multi-dimensional policy approach to holistically address this reality and further improve the well-being of our society as a whole.”

The three main aims outline by the policy and the Minister himself were the prevention of alcohol consumption among minors, the moderation of drinking behavior among adults, and averting drink driving specifically.

Also speaking at the launch was Professor Richard Muscat, the Head of Department for the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery at the University of Malta.

Muscat presented various statistics and information on how alcohol is affecting society, and the individuals who abuse of it. He explained that alcohol also has a serious impact on those persons living in close proximity to the drinker, as it is responsible for around 50% of all violent crime to the person, about 40% of all domestic violence, 2000 homicides, 10,000 deaths of people other than the drink-driver, and some 17% of cases of child abuse and neglect.

“The key aspect is kids under 17 should not be drinking, and controlling drink consumption for adults.”

He also noted that it is important for children to refrain from drinking alcohol because their frontal cortex, the part of the brain that moderates things such as decision making and moderating social behavior, has not yet developed.

The policy calls for the enforcement of legislation so as to tangibly limit the sale, purchase, consumption and supply of alcoholic products to persons under the age of 17 years, whilst introducing harsher penalties against sellers and distributors who are found guilty of contravening the law. This will also include the setting up of a fund by alcohol manufacturers and retailers as a Corporate Social Responsibility Measure to use for education campaigns.

With regards to the general population, a discussion with respective authorities is to commence in order to introduce stronger physical environment criteria in relation to overcrowding, proper access and exit requirements to places of entertainment, as well as proper ventilation and hygiene.

 

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