(May 31, 2019) On March 26, 2019, the Seimas (Lithuanian legislature) adopted amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations that penalize drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for operating vehicles without anti-alcohol blocking devices. The amendments are effective from January 1, 2020. (Lietuvos Respublikos Administraciniu Nusizengimu Kodekso 27, 34, 420, 422, 423, 424 Straipsniu Pakeitimo ir Kodekso Papildymo 311 ir 693 Straipsniais Istatymas [Amendments to Articles 27, 34, 420, 422, 423 of the Republic of Lithuania Code of Administrative Violations, Supplementing the Code with Article 311 and Article 693 of the Law], Mar. 26, 2019, Seimas website.)
Lithuania began requiring that convicted drunk drivers use anti-alcohol blocking devices in 2018 following the adoption of amendments to the Road Safety Act. (Lietuvos Respublikos Saugaus Eismo Automobiliu Keliais Istatymo nr. Viii-2043 2 ir 24 Straipsniu Pakeitimo Istatymas [Republic of Lithuania Road Safety Act No. viii-2043, Amendments to Articles 2 and 24 of the Act], Oct. 19, 2018, Seimas website.) Under these amendments, as of January 1, 2020, law enforcement authorities will be able to choose between imposing longer periods of suspension of driving privileges and shorter periods, depending on whether the convicted driver agrees to have an anti-alcohol blocking device installed in his or her vehicle. (Id. arts. 2, 3.) According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, a convicted driver will also have the same choice. Should the driver choose a shorter suspension period, he or she will be able to drive only vehicles equipped with an anti-alcohol blocking device and be required to obtain a driving license with a restriction code “69,” signifying that the driver can drive only such vehicles. (Legalized Anti-alcohol Engine Locks Will Help Change Driver Habits, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (Mar. 20, 2018) (in Lithuanian).)
Subsequent amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations established penalties for operating vehicles not equipped with anti-alcohol blocking devices for drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. (Amendments to Articles 27, 34, 420, 422, 423, 424 of the Code of Administrative Violations art. 2.) According to the Amendments to the Code of Administrative Violations, the prohibition on driving a vehicle without an anti-alcohol blocking device can last from one to two years and be imposed only with the driver’s consent. (Id.) When imposing penalties for driving vehicles without anti-alcohol blocking devices, law enforcement must consider aggravating or mitigating circumstances. (Id. art. 3.)
“Mildly intoxicated drivers” (those with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.4 mg/ml but less than 1.5 mg/ml) convicted of driving infractions (such as road rage, aggressive driving, and driving that damages others’ health and property) will have shorter suspensions of their driving privileges if their vehicles are equipped with anti-alcohol blocking devices. (Id. arts. 3, 4, 5, 6.)
Ignoring the ban and continuing to drive a vehicle not equipped with an anti-alcohol blocking device is punishable by a fine of €450–700 (about US$500–780). (Id. art. 7.)
With the adoption of these regulations, Lithuania is attempting to further minimize alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities. Statistics published by the government’s Department of Drug, Tobacco, and Alcohol Control show that, in 2016, every seventh recorded highway accident was caused by drunk driving (Alcohol Consumption and Consequences, DRUG, TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL CONTROL DEPARTMENT (last updated May 22, 2018) (in Lithuanian)), and traffic safety experts have assessed that traffic accidents will decrease by 40–95% as a result of legalizing and regulating anti-alcohol blocking devices (Legalized Anti-alcohol Engine Locks Will Help Change Driver Habits, supra).