Almost 50 thousand drivers said no, when asked if they would agree to take the test breathalyzer (or breathalyzer), in approaches by military police in the state of São Paulo, this year. The number is already higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic and lights an alert in this holiday seasonwhen there is a risk of people driving after consuming alcohol at get-togethers.
For experts, the statistic can demonstrate a sense of impunity for allegedly drunk drivers. who try not to produce evidence against themselves, for imagining that the consequences of refusal will be less than those of being caught by the device.
According to the Detran (Department of Traffic) of São Paulo, from January to November, 47,352 people were fined for refusing to blow the breathalyzer, when approached by traffic police officers across the state. In the same period of 2019, the inspection applied 45,089 assessments. That is, today the number is 6% higher.
In 2020 and 2021, when there were restrictions on the operation of bars and traffic blitzes to catch drunk drivers were suspended because of to the coronavirusthe data were smaller —32,853 and 35,313 fines, respectively.
The numbers are from all approachesfrom individual ones in traffic to large operations.
Only in blitzes Integrated Safe Driving Operation, created to mainly monitor alcohol consumption —it was not carried out during part of the pandemic and was resumed in the second half of 2021—, from January to November of this year, of the 129,454 drivers approached, 5,577 refused the breathalyzer, that is, 4 %. Of the total, 614 were booked for alcoholemia.
Contrary to the rise in test refusals, the number of drivers caught under the influence of alcohol in the state is lower in 2022 than in the previous three years – the numbers also apply to all approaches, not just in blitzes.
According to the Detran, from January to November this year, 7,742 fines were applied to these drivers, against 8,529 last year, 8,909, in 2020 and 11,646, in 2019.
Ademir Rafael dos Santos, president of the Traffic Law Commission of the OAB-SP, says that possibly there is a lack of information for those who refuse the breathalyzer, as the punishments can be harsh.
“In theory, this question [deixar de fazer o teste] doesn’t change anything”, says the lawyer.
Anyone who refuses to blow the device commits a very serious infraction. gets a fine of BRL 2,934.70, seven points on CNH (National Driver’s License) and may suffer administrative proceedings with suspension of the right to drive for 12 months.
The punishment is the same when the breathalyzer confirms 0.05 mg/l to 0.33 mg/l of alcohol per liter of air expelled by the person who blew the device.
A driver caught with 0.34 mg/l of alcohol per liter of expelled air commits a traffic crime, with a penalty of six months to three years in prison, a fine of R$ 2,934.70 and loses the right to drive for two years.
“If a military police officer offers the test and the driver does not want it, before applying the fine for refusal, he [autoridade de trânsito] will be able to analyze changes in the psychomotor capacity of the driver”, says the expert.
According to resolution 423 of the Contran (National Traffic Council)the police officer can analyze signs such as the driver’s appearance and attitudes to prove the alcohol level.
If at least two signs indicate drunkenness, the driver may be taken to the police station and end up arrested, if he has compromised traffic safety, even if he refuses to blow the breathalyzer.
Last May, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) considered the imposition of sanctions on drivers who refuse to take a breathalyzer test by transit authorities.
“A lot of clarification is lacking for those who refuse the test thinking that they will only receive a fine and not have any process”, says lawyer Santos.
Preserving lives on the asphalt
A doctor specializing in traffic for over 40 years, Flávio Emir Adura, scientific director of Abramet (Brazilian Association of Traffic Medicine), reinforces that, in addition to knowing the legislation, drivers need to be aware of the consequences of drinking alcohol.
According to him, under the influence of alcohol, the driver is 17 times more likely to be involved in a serious traffic accident.
When they drink, says Adura, drivers are more likely to drive at high speeds, not fasten their seatbelts and use the cell phone🇧🇷 “It multiplies the risk.”
Data from the Federal Highway Police, tabulated by Abramet, show that between January and July drunk drivers were involved in accidents that caused 111 deaths on federal highways.
The number of deaths is lower than in the same period of 2021, when 121 people died on these roads from accidents that had alcohol intake as a consequence. The total of injured, however, is higher: 2,233 in the first seven months of 2022, against 2,127 in the same previous period.
For Abramet, the Dry Law, enacted in July 2008 and hardened by updates since then, it has saved at least 50,000 lives.
“Alcohol compromises the reflex, reduces attention and the ability to evaluate the perception of speed, the calculation of the safe distance for overtaking, motor coordination and the ability to control the vehicle, in addition to peripheral vision”, says Adura.
For lawyer Ademir Rafael dos Santos, it is necessary to carry out more awareness campaigns, including so that drivers are aware of the consequences of trying to hide their alcohol levels when they refuse to take a breathalyzer test. “Daily and school guidance is needed.”
Punishments for drinking and driving
Article 165 of the CTB (driving under the influence of alcohol or any other psychoactive substance that determines dependence)
- very serious infraction
- Penalty amount of BRL 2,934.70 (if caught driving under the influence of alcohol more than once in a 12-month period, the amount doubles to BRL 5,869.40)
- Aggregate administrative sanction – suspension of the right to drive for 12 months (after the initiation of an administrative proceeding by the DMV Qualification Board with the right to full defense and contradictory)
Amount of alcohol and consequences
- Up to 0.04 mg/l (milligram of alcohol per liter of alveolar air) – there is no traffic violation.
- Between 0.05 mg/l and 0.33 mg/l – traffic violation pursuant to article 165 of the Brazilian Traffic Code (CTB)
- Equal to or greater than 0.34 mg/l – crime under article 306 of the CTB (Art. 306. Driving a motor vehicle with altered psychomotor capacity due to the influence of alcohol or another psychoactive substance that determines dependence — Penalties – detention, six months to three years, fine and suspension or ban on obtaining a permit or license to drive a motor vehicle)
In the case of refusal to the test, the consequences are the same (the article changes from 165 to 165-A of the CTB)
- very serious infraction
- Refusal, but no other or just a sign of alteration in psychomotor capacity: fine of R$ 2,934.70 and suspension of the right to drive for 12 months
- Refusal and at least two signs of alteration in psychomotor capacity: fine, suspension of the right to drive for 12 months and detention from six months to three years