Sofia Echo


Bulgaria mulling fines as sole penalty for drink-driving

Author: The Sofia Echo Staff Date: Thu, Jan 21 2010 25 Comments, 4488 Views
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Bulgaria is considering removing drink-driving from its list of criminal offences in the Penal Code, so that motorists with excessive blood-alcohol levels would only face fines.
Prosecutor-General Boris Velchev said on January 20 2010 that removing driving under the influence of liquor from the Penal Code, along with other offences like unauthorised tree-felling and selling goods lacking excise labels, would reduce the bureaucratic burden on the system.
In each case, the relevant authorities would issue fines, Velchev said.
In 2009, drink-driving convictions added up to close to 30 per cent of all court cases in Bulgaria. The Justice Ministry is currently debating various proposals to streamline Bulgaria’s justice system, which has been criticised repeatedly abroad and in the country for being hamstrung by delays, inefficiency and red tape.
The idea of decriminalising drink-driving got a hostile reaction from Bulgaria’s Association of Insurers and People Injured in Traffic Accidents.
The association’s chairperson, Vladimir Dimitrov, said in mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa on January 21 that Bulgarians lacked the required self-control and conscientiousness to stop themselves taking the wheel when drunk.
Military Medical Academy head Stoyan Tonev said that drink-drivers should be fined only if they had committed no other offence. Fines for driving while drunk should be handed down according to a scale based on the income of the offender, Tonev said.
Repeat offenders should be made to do community work in hospitals or cemeteries, Tonev said.
In a separate story, Bulgarian-language daily Trud said on January 16 2010 that the National Union of Driving Instructors had asked that the legal for driving a car be reduced to 16, the same age in the United States and some European countries.
The head of the union, Milena Todorova, said that the people of that age should be eligible to get provisional driving licences entitling them to drive under the supervision of a licenced driver.
Todorova said that the union also wanted to see Bulgaria scrap the requirement that candidates for driving licences have a minimum of primary school education.

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    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #25 01, 36, Sat, Jan 23 2010

      "I respectfully still don't agree that the U.S. is "less free" than the BG."

      It depends how you look at things. No person legally compelled to behave in a certain way, is truly free. The freedom from hearing ugly and unpleasant words and epithets, is lack of freedom to say them.

      Living in a place with cultural disapproval of normal male imperfections, is very difficult for someone who knows different. I pitied my American friends with their constant fear of being exposed as men, and I envied them [...]

      Read the full comment that they don't know any better, and can live in relative comfort with it.

      I can't look behind my shoulder and wonder if I'll get sued over something I said everyday, and invest energy in monitoring my behavior about stupid things that have nothing to do with business. Mind you, I don't go around insulting folks, but no way in hell would I allow some bimbo to correct me that the term "gal" is sexist, in the middle of a meeting... this is just a small part of it.. Then I was well into my 30s when I was habitually carded for a beer at the airport - that is just humiliating - showing some loser bartender your documents to get his approval for a brew. There's so much more...

      I can't imagine that in a free country like BG.

      .. respectfully;) good night!

    • Anonymous neutral
      #24 00, 49, Sat, Jan 23 2010

      Hi Valeri,

      So what's the right balance for BG then regarding this particular issue?

      In what way precisely do you see this balance manifested in BG society? I live here and I am not seeing all this freedom....freedom to do what exactly?

      I respectfully still don't agree that the U.S. is "less free" than the BG. Perhaps in different ways maybe? The U.S. is a very big country with a large, diverse population of people who have to share the same space. Plus, we have this whole state/federal [...]

      Read the full comment thing. They are simply very different countries.

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #23 18, 43, Fri, Jan 22 2010

      Lol Boriana;)

      so you see, there's always some out there, ready to make me look moderate;)

      I agree with much of what you say, except for the non Bulgarians not having the right of an opinion.
      BG is a free country, and we have a tradition of generosity towards people chosen to reside among us.
      Even some one like Cosmos;)
      jokes aside...

    • Anonymous
      Boriana Rating:
      #22 11, 01, Fri, Jan 22 2010

      I have lived in the States mostly my whole life, however, I am full blooded Bulgarian, and have decided to move back due to the fact that there really isnt any freedome in the US...NONE..its more communist than Bulgaria ever was...
      To the drunk driving, and driving laws in are not have no right to even have an opinion on these laws...sorry...please dont try and make this another US...people here have been ignorant enough and taken up a lot of your stupid customs that disgust me (no offence, but I love the Bulgarian culture and want [...]

      Read the full comment it to stay that way)....Two...if you want things to be in place, and to be "perfect"like int he states...GO HOME! Dont try and change Bulgaria...Bulgaria needs order in the government only, the people working for Bulgarians, need to do it instead of rob us blind of our making the driving laws more extreme, there wont be less drunk people on the street, but richer cops. So, until they can get the right organization and structure in the goverment itself...for the officials...before they start making rules for the public...they should look at themselves. Also, the reason that 30% of court cases are due to drunk driving, its because cops dont stop for anything else...speeding? pay him off...broken tailight? tell him you'll fix far as drunk driving...there are times when they will bring them in because of an actual accident...not because they just caught them driving drunk...trus tme, I know lots of people that got away with it without any problem..honestly...I drive better drunk...unfortunately, I havent had the opportunity in Bulgaria yet.. :-) If you cant hold your alchohol its your problem, Bulgarians can...

    • Anonymous
      Joseph Rating:
      #21 08, 09, Fri, Jan 22 2010

      Valeri is right on one thing. There has to be a tough penalty on drunk driving. One year suspension and jail the first time, and a lifetime ban on driving for the second offense. Jailtime would help too. You can have all the laws you want, but it has to be tough. It's the only way people learn. And it's not a BG thing, it's a human thing.

    • AnonymousValeriFri, Jan 22 2010

      This comment has been removed by the moderator because it contained

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #19 01, 27, Fri, Jan 22 2010

      ".. how confident can people feel if they know there are no real consequences if drunk drivers can hurt others and get away with it?"

      Well, I would say that it's legal presence of "real consequences" that give people a false sense of security, as much as less rules, give them false sense of freedom.

      As I said I see it as finding the balance, and places like the US are way pass the point of guarding freedoms, as they protect innocents. I kind of like BG with it's primal survival culture. [...]

      Read the full comment I guess you could say that I am not very socialized person;) It comes from growing up in various free day cares during Commie times;)

    • Anonymous neutral
      #18 00, 16, Fri, Jan 22 2010


      Ah, I didn't think this was true....

      I understand what you are saying about the aggregate....I worked as a legislative assistant in two State Legislatures (many years ago) and every time someone did something which resulted in misfortune, someone would introduce legislation to cease such action. When really, sometimes all that is needed is basic common sense to avoid such problems in the first place. The problem is, not everyone has the same amount of common sense. In a society of people who live together, people must be held accountable for [...]

      Read the full comment their actions. This does not prevent people from doing the wrong thing, yet there is at least a remedy (of sorts) to not allow someone to just get away with harming another. To me, this gives a false sense of 'freedom' because you are then arbitrarily at the mercy of someone else's good judgment, with no consequences if they make the wrong choice.

      To bring it back to this topic of drunk confident can people feel if they know there are no real consequences if drunk drivers can hurt others and get away with it?

    • Anonymous
      Cosmos Rating:
      #17 23, 06, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      Where ?

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #16 22, 58, Thu, Jan 21 2010


      "... or we have mob rule and the bully boys would take over."

      Like I said Cosmos - lock them shoot them hang them... go back to Womersley, will you...

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #15 22, 43, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      No Expat,

      it was never the law in BG.

      "Do you really feel as though by legislating against people driving drunk, this automatically results in loss of freedoms?"

      No I don't. The problem is in the aggregate. The US has thousands of such laws designed to ensure the elimination of accidents and unpleasant behavior. From turning bartenders into cops (asking for documents obviously mature adults), to the countless liability issues at every step - it's not a free country any more. It's a safer country, but not a [...]

      Read the full comment free one.

      I see this as a matter of priority. Which is more important?

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #14 22, 31, Thu, Jan 21 2010


      "I know what works: first offense, lose license for a year. Second offense, forever."

      If I were you, I'd shake the "ex" part. You are a true American my friend... What do you mean "works"? To what end? To eliminate drunk driving?

      Ones, in LA, I was hit by a Mexican guy, turning suddenly, from the lane to my left, into a parking entrance, to my right, failing to notice me completely. Not only was he drunk, but he had already been arrested before for driving without [...]

      Read the full comment a license, which was taken away from him for drunk driving more than a year before.

      Sure he got taken away, but had anything happen to me, who's fault would've it been? The "lax laws"? Nope. The Hispanic love for booze? Nope. Who's?

      Mine. I am the person most responsible for my survival, since I am the one with the most to lose if I should fail. I should've known better than to spend this half a second in this obviously Mexican truck's blind spot. It's like crossing on green without looking left and right, or stopping on red, without checking to see if folks behind are doing the same. Right of way, or obeying the laws mean nothing when you are chilling at the morgue...

    • Anonymous
      Cosmos Rating:
      #13 22, 31, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      First of all Cuban Cigars never killed anyone only the choice of the person that smoked killed the person. Also most Americans are fat yet again down to choice buy Mcfat or salad the world needs laws or we have mob rule and the bully boys would take over. I am sick of reading some of the stupid comments that have nothing to do with the report.

      (Get a life and then happy days)

    • Anonymous neutral
      #12 22, 29, Thu, Jan 21 2010


      Speeding huh??? Was this ever a real penalty here in BG, or were they making it up to scare everyone?

      Personally, I like this old saying (I have NO idea who said it first): "My rights end where yours begin" meaning: I can drink all I want (freedom), provided I do not kill or maim you or your loved ones with my car (responsibility).

      What have I been saying about those Puritan forefathers of ours? :) I agree, that due to human beings' inherent nature, you cannot [...]

      Read the full comment ever eliminate risk in daily life. Laws alone are simply not a deterrent. So, why have laws at all, if, at the end, we are subject only to lady luck?

      Do you really feel as though by legislating against people driving drunk, this automatically results in loss of freedoms? If so, in what way? I know what you're getting at with the War on Drugs/Terrorism, but, even with this, what's the risk management approach? An acceptable level of deaths associated with the behavior? At the end, I still believe that people in a society acquiesce some freedoms in order to live together, must then be responsible for their choices.

    • Anonymous neutral
      #11 21, 57, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      dont forget a car is a lethal weapon even in the hands of the tea totallers.a couple of drinks never did anybody any harm as long as the person does not drive. drink and drive or stay alive

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #10 21, 53, Thu, Jan 21 2010


      It wasn't a video. It was part of the curriculum - various penalties in random countries.
      It was in early 2000s. I was there for speeding.

      I guess the answer is to find the balance. Risk management is practical. Risk elimination is Puritan and completely elusive and unrealistic target. It's like War on Drugs or Terrorism - there is no winning and the only possible net effect, can be loss of freedoms.
      We humans affect each other with anything we do, or don't do. Ones I killed [...]

      Read the full comment a friend, by pushing him to get in shape. He had a heart attack at the gym and died. He was too heavy, because he loved his food and cigars... So who killed him? The restaurant industry? The Tobacco industry? Or his fitness fanatic friend in his good intend?
      Personally I like to think that the Cubans killed him with their cigars...
      We make choices, so that's in our control, but external factors, the most important element is luck. If Goddess Fortuna doesn't smile to you, all the laws for your protection are meaningless...

    • Anonymous
      ex-American Rating:
      #9 21, 41, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      US laws are actually too lax, because it is deemed just 'too cruel' to take away the license of a fossil fuel addicted American. Rich people can pay a whopping fine, while the little Joes get sent to Alcoholics Anonymous for a year as a free pass. They do it to save the fine, though, not to address a problem, and AA is full of them. I know what works: first offense, lose license for a year. Second offense, forever.

      16 years olds getting licenses is also absurd and I believe dates to the days when [...]

      Read the full comment US teens were needed to drive trucks on farms and other agricultural machines. I would prefer if the driving age were 19 or 20-- and lost by most people over 70.

      Bulgarians will take a reduction to a fine as green light for drink-driving (especially in villages where there are often no cops at all) and the accident/fatality rate, bad enough as it is, will rocket all the more.

      Dumb idea, Mr Borissov, who has suggested a fine of up to 1000 leva
      for simple folks who don't recycle their trash properly. This country has some asinine priorities.

    • Anonymous neutral
      #8 21, 18, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      Well, I have to say Valeri, your comments have made me laugh out loud (again). I remember when I was in high school, we were taught that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Communist (with a capital "C") and that the commies were going to invade us, any day now, via Alaska. :) We were taught to be very afraid of you Eastern Bloc countries. Where (and more importantly, when) did you see this video? :)

      I too know the dangers of an Asian woman on the road....I agree with you on that...we can also throw [...]

      Read the full comment in cell phone talkers, makeup artists (I am guilty) and people eating their breakfast while driving and eating out of a bowl with a spoon (I have seen this).

      For me, my comments about law and order are not necessarily solely in response to anything that BG does in particular....I have this same "Dirty Harry" mentality about all criminals everywhere, especially those in my own country. What about the victims? Really. I know you can't always legislate what should be common sense, but what's a better alternative?

    • Anonymous
      peter Rating:
      #7 21, 17, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      maybe putting them all in an abandoned airport with strong fences around it after forcing them to drink more alcohol as the wish for and give them an old big car so they can show off their driving skills might work.

    • Anonymous
      Valeri Rating:
      #6 20, 40, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      That's funny Ex-pat,
      Until just a few years a go in the traffic schools in the US (one day event for casual offenders) they were teaching that the second drunk driving conviction in a country called "Bulgaria", carried the automatic death sentence. I guess BG is one of those mysterious rough East Europe countries, perfectly positioned to makes us feel even better about living in the Land of the Free:)

      A little surprising that you folks find us "too free". Seriously, if you read comments here, for practically every BG imperfection or transgression in [...]

      Read the full comment the news, western comments are uniformly "lock them, shoot, them hang them". I thought that we just got rid of governments that can destroy your life.
      Freedom has a price. Old and Asian folks in the US are much more dangerous that drunk ones on the roads, yet you can't outlaw the bad luck of running into one of them. Sure there should be a price to pay for unnecessary endangering of others, but come on - lets not turn BG into the US - I valued our freedom....

    • Anonymous
      peter Rating:
      #5 19, 57, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      what a load of crap, not only make them pay a HUGE fine, but locking them up in prison and take their license might work. As far as letting 16 year olds get their license, look at how the growens ups drive!!!!! Make all Bulgarians take some lessons and learn how to behave in traffic!!!

    • Anonymous neutral
      #4 19, 01, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      I had to read the article twice to make sure I read it correctly. If you are caught drunk driving, you should have to face both a potential jail term, PLUS a heavy fine. To suggest implementing an income based sliding scale fine for this type of serious offense is ludicrous. The fines should be so exorbitant that people may (I stress may) stop and think twice about drinking and driving. I think that in the U.S. we do have fairly tough drunk driving laws on the books, yet based on the fact that there are repeat offenders, tells me [...]

      Read the full comment we are not harsh enough.

      I would also say to keep the driving age at 18. Just because we let kids drive cars at 16 doesn't mean that they are necessarily better or more responsible drivers. The earlier commentator was right that there are many other places to decrease bureaucracy.

    • Anonymous
      Cosmos Rating:
      #3 14, 48, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      More drunks and deaths on the roads then, stupid bloody idea that you can fine a person for causing death while over the legal limit come on Bulgaria get real.

    • Anonymous
      Raptor Rating:
      #2 14, 28, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      Wait a sec. Is there any evidence to demonstrate or suggest that making this act a fine would increase drink driving instances..?!

    • Anonymous
      Irritated Rating:
      #1 13, 26, Thu, Jan 21 2010

      This article is full of Brilliant Bulgarian (= bloody stupid)ideas!!! Drink driving is one of THE MOST CRIMINAL OFFENCES there is and it must not be negated to just a fine!Likewise 16 year olds in the USA generally have large wide open roads to learn on and automatic transmissions. Enough young drivers causing accidents (and dying themselves) without increasing the number.I thought BG is part of the EU? Why are we comparing ourselves to America? there are other places where decreasing the bureaucracy would be much better applied - like when selling a car!!!

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