MONTEVIDEO – A Uruguayan law that makes it an offense to get behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol will take effect at midnight Saturday, 10 days after it was published in the official gazette.
The measure, passed by Congress on Dec. 22 and signed into law a week later by President Tabare Vazquez, lowers the permissible blood-alcohol level for all drivers from 0.3 grams per liter to 0.0, the same limit that already applies to professional drivers.
Adrian Bringa, executive secretary of the National Road Safety Unit, told EFE that enforcement mechanisms will not change.
Penalties likewise remain the same, with a first offense involving the loss of driving privileges for up to six months, rising to 12 months for a second offense. Chronic offenders face permanent revocation of their licenses, the official said.
One change under the new law is that drivers with a blood alcohol level of more than 1.2 grams per liter will face criminal prosecution.
The law is based on the premise that “the only safe level of blood alcohol to drive is zero,” Bringa said.
Uruguay has a rate of 16.6 traffic deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the most recent report from the World Health Organization.