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Brazil: Zero Tolerance of Drunk Driving

(Jan. 31, 2013) On January 29, 2013, a Resolution (Resolução CONTRAN No. 432 de 23 de Janeiro de 2013, DENATRAN (Brazilian Department of Transportation website)) issued by the National Council of Transit (Conselho Nacional de Trânsito – CONTRAN) entered into force. It regulates Law No. 12,760 of December 20, 2012 (Lei No. 12,760 de 20 de Dezembro de 2012, PLANALTO.GOV.BR), which amended the Brazilian Traffic Code (Código de Trânsito Brasileiro,Lei No. 9,503, de 23 de Setembro de 1997, PLANALTO.GOV.BR).

The purpose of Law No. 12,760 was to reduce the level of alcohol tolerated in the blood of motor vehicle drivers to almost zero and to establish new means to prove that a driver was driving drunk. (Law No. 12,760.)

Resolution No. 432 defines the procedures to be adopted by traffic authorities and their agents during inspection of drivers to verify that they have consumed alcohol or other psychoactive substances, for the enforcement of articles165, 276, 277 and 306 of the Traffic Code (art. 1).

According to the Resolution, violation of article 165 of the Brazilian Traffic Code is established when the driver of a motor vehicle has a blood level with any concentration of alcohol or breath alcohol level higher than 0.05 miligrams per liter of air (amounts below that are with in the margin of error of the equipment). In such cases, article 165 of the Code determines that the driver is subject to a fine (currently, R$1,915,00, about US$957.50) and the loss of the right to drive for 12 months. (Resolution CONTRAN No. 432, art. 6.)

Article 6 of the Resolution also applies, when appropriate, the provisions of article 306 of the Code that criminalize driving amotor vehicle with altered psychomotor ability due to the influenceof alcohol or other psychoactive substance. The punishment for such conduct is imprisonment for six months to three years, a fine, and the suspension of the license to drive or a prohibition on obtaining such a license. (Traffic Code, art. 306.)

Article 5 of the Resolution establishes the type of evidence that a traffic agent may consider to prove the drunkenness of the driver when the person refuses to do the breathalyzer test or a blood test. (André de Souza, CONTRAN Endurece Lei Seca e Reduz Tolerância de Álcool no Bafômetro, O GLOBO (Jan. 29, 2013).)