Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday reiterated the need to tighten criminal liability for impaired driving.
“Some things must be punished,” he said. “Sadly, it is the only way.”
These comments follow a series of deadly road accidents across the country.
On Saturday five teenagers and two adults were killed when a drunk driver lost control of his car and slammed into a bus stop in western Moscow. This incident in particular caused widespread public outrage and triggered calls for the issue to be taken more seriously.
On Sunday two people were killed and eight injured when a minivan taxi collided with a car in southeast Moscow.
Five people were killed in a road accident in Russia’s Far East region on Monday.
The head of state recalled that the driver in Saturday’s incident told investigators he “has always done as he likes.”
“We will have to toughen legislation in that area. The current legislation does not work,” Putin said.
The ruling United Russia party favors harsher penalties for driving under the influence, including steeper fines, vehicle confiscation, lifetime driving bans and a custodial sentence for repeat offenders.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has also endorsed the initiative.
“We have had a series of gruesome traffic accidents recently; sadly, the absolute majority were committed by drivers who were highly intoxicated,” he said. “We should consider introducing tougher criminal responsibility for these offenses.”
As it stands, Russia’s criminal code only envisions a custodial sentence if there has been a fatality. The current fine is a “paltry” 5,000 rubles ($160) and 15-day administrative arrest, explained Andrei Vorobyov, who leads the United Russia party grouping in parliament.
He added that that the fine should rise to at least 100,000 rubles, and said drunk driving should be treated as seriously as terrorism.
The Russian parliament is set to consider changes to the law for impaired driving on October 16.