By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The anti-drinking and driving law “Lei Seca” (literally Dry Law) and its accompanying car blitz operations celebrate their six year anniversary in Rio de Janeiro. Thanks to the introduction of the project, Rio has become a national reference in the reduction of deaths in traffic.
Between 2008 and 2013 alone deaths in traffic in the state of Rio de Janeiro were reduced by 35 percent, while in the rest of Brazil the numbers increased by ten percent on average. And while at the beginning of operations around twenty percent of halted motorists had been under the influence that number has been reduced to seven percent.
Currently, 250 civil and military agents ensure the smooth running of Operação Lei Seca (Operation Dry Law), among them 33 people in wheelchairs, who themselves had been victims of drunk driving accidents.
In a survey conducted among Cariocas it was found that ninety percent of the citizens approve of Operação Lei Seca (OLS). The Lei Seca initiative not only conducts street controls, but also holds educational classes and speeches to encourage the public not to drink and drive.
“The initiative became a public policy of the government what changed the scenario of the state, [as they started] interacting with the daily life of the population. The initiative made people change their habits and behavior, becoming more responsible in relation to traffic and the preservation of life, avoiding accidents and deaths. We have earned the credibility of society,” Lieutenant Colonel and coordinator of OLS, Marco Andrade, told the press.
Between the introduction of OLS and the morning of March 19, 2015, 1,815,959 drivers were stopped, of which 356,483 were fined. Around 73,446 had their car apprehended and another 128,250 driver had their license taken from them.
A total of 136,631 drivers were caught driving under the influence and 4,702 of them had to deal with criminal charges.
Furthermore, the program has received national and international attention with nineteen states in Brazil, as well as Venezuela and Spain sending delegates to Rio to export the program to their states or countries.