By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Operação Lei Seca (Operation Dry Law) in Rio de Janeiro will reinforce the state-wide actions of inspection and awareness during the Carnival this year, according to government news reports.
The anti-drinking and driving law was passed in 2008 as a zero tolerance law for drivers with any measurable content of alcohol in their blood, and the operation was introduced in Rio de Janeiro in March 2009.
The special 2017 Carnival operation, which will start on Friday (February 24th) and continue until Tuesday (February 28th), will bring all staff and resources to the the streets, which totals 250 agents.
Coordinator of Operação Lei Seca, lieutenant colonel Marcos Andrade said “In addition to the [roadway] inspection blitzes, already known by the drivers, we will intensify the educational actions in the largest blocos of Carnival with distribution of hand-fans and stickers. The idea is to alert partygoers to the importance of returning home safely. Always remembering: Never Drive After Drinking!”
Officials report there will be 65 road checkpoint actions during this Carnival period, including during the day, in the exits of major blocos, beaches and waterfalls of the state. The operations will take place in the capital city, metropolitan area and inland in the state.
American expatriate in Rio, and co-owner of the Blue Agave Mexican bar and restaurants, Jason Galeria, shares, “Initially I thought the zero tolerance was overkill. In California and other states in the U.S., they allow for a [blood alcohol content] of .08 so one could have a beer or two, over an hour and still drive themselves home.”
Yet Galeria adds, “But seeing the gross abuse of intoxicated drivers in this city, I came to realize that the authorities had to crack down. [So] I think the zero tolerance is appropriate, at least for a few more years, until the culture towards driving drink changes completely.”
The teams will be in blocos with greater concentration of people, among them: Carmelitas (Santa Teresa); Banda de Ipanema (Ipanema); Cordão da Bola Preta (Centro); Bloco da Favorita (Copacabana); Carrossel de Emoções (Barra da Tijuca); Simpatia é Quase Amor (Ipanema); Bangalafumenga (Glória); AfroReggae (Centro); Sargento Pimenta (Glória); Banda de Ipanema (Ipanema); Orquestra Voadora (Glória).
Government news sources report that in 2016, more than 6,800 drivers were approached by Operação Lei Seca in the Carnival period. Of the total approaches, 563 drivers showed signs of intoxication, with 1,745 fines imposed.