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    Russian State Duma passes total drink driving ban

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    The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, on Friday passed in its third reading a bill on a complete alcohol ban for drivers.

    The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, on Friday passed in its third reading a bill on a complete alcohol ban for drivers.

    State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said Wednesday a law was adopted a few years ago that allowed drivers to get behind the wheel with a small content of alcohol in their blood, adding that legislators had since decided to enforce a blanket ban on drink driving.

    Gryzlov said tougher punishments for drink driving, used in the past few years, which included the suspension of drivers' licenses as well as up to 15 days in jail, had been effective as in the first five months of 2010, "the number of car accidents caused by drink drivers decreased by 11% and the number of those killed in such accidents dropped 35%."

    The Duma also passed on the third reading a bill on traffic violations.

    In general, the bill envisions that punishments for violations registered by video cameras will be milder than for those registered by traffic police officers. For example, Gryzlov said Wednesday, if the violation amounts to between 1,500 to 3,000 rubles [$48 to $96], and it is registered by a video camera, the fine will be 1,500 rubles.

    He added that if a camera registers an offense which is punishable by the suspension of a driver's license, for example passing vehicles using the oncoming lane where it is prohibited, then the offender will be fined 5,000 rubles ($160) instead.

    But an amendment has been added to the bill envisioning that people making illegal U-turns will from now on be punished by the suspension of their driver's licenses for up to 6 months.

    If a camera registers such U-turns, offenders will pay 5,000 rubles ($160). Previously, such offenders had to pay up to 1,500 rubles ($48) in a fine and their licenses were not suspended.

    Punishment will also be increased for some other minor offenses.

    The bills are yet to be approved by the Federation Council - the upper house of parliament - and the president.

    MOSCOW, July 2 (RIA Novosti)

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