*This article was written in collaboration with Kunhadi.org
Previously on the blog, Chapter 1: A Lesson in Friendship.
We all know Lebanon’s not the most awful place. And by ‘not the most’, many would say ‘not at all’. It’s true that reliable statistics are almost non-existent. Safety laws are mostly a charade. And worst of all, the people seem to have developed a general nonchalance. The Lebanese people are so used to expressing contempt and disapproval of the government, so much so that whenever an improvement is made we often stubbornly disregard it.
Well, today’s blog post is a lesson in law: The Lebanese Traffic Law, to be precise. No, I’m not pranking you. Yes, it exists, even if it’s not properly installed. It’s time to take a breath from ‘weiniyye l dawle’ and actually take a look at existent laws that affect you.
Chapter 2: A Lesson in Law with Kunhadi
Let’s start with some cold, disturbing facts. Even though the Lebanese population is almost equally divided between males and females, 76.94% of car crash deaths in 2016 were males. Of deaths caused by car crashes, 51.15% were individuals under 30 years old. To make this worse, 21.8% of these were children under 14 years. It’s safe to assume that this pattern is typical for every year on Lebanese roads.
While our statistics are barely up-to-date and mostly missing, it is estimated that drunk driving is the second cause of car crashes in Lebanon, after speeding. Keep in mind that available statistics don’t support this. In fact, according to the available statistics, “Other” is the leading cause of car crashes in Lebanon. Confused? Yes. So was I. Now, statistics in Lebanon should be taken with a grain of salt – or a rock, while you’re at it. But it’s a good thing we have industry professionals to ask, like Fady Gebrane, president of Kunhadi, whose long years of experience make his words much more reliable than Lebanese statistics because, as your teta used to say, “s’al mjarreb, w ma tes’al hakim”. As it turns out, we can safely assume that a large portion of these “Other” car crashes is due to drunk driving. And a good guess is that most people don’t admit to crashing when drunk since insurance companies don’t cover DUI crashes.
Now earlier this year, there was a whole lot of buzz around The New Lebanese Traffic Law. I am Lebanese. I live in Lebanon. I realize how puny and insignificant this may seem to you. After all, there’s always a matter of “Will they actually enforce it?” who has more wasta, and Lebanese people who think they’re either above the law or too manly to follow this child’s play.
But no matter, the law exists and you need to know it, as it can save you from humiliation and going broke, to say the least.
The New Lebanese Traffic Law:
- Article 17 states that people with driving licenses that are less than 3 years old are not allowed to drink and drive. Like, at all.
- After the 3 year earmark, individuals should not drink and drive with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) exceeding 0.5 g/L.
- According to Article 17, drivers of public transportation vehicles, buses, and trucks that weigh more than 7.5 tons, as well as vehicles that transport dangerous material cannot drink and drive. Also, at all!
The Consequences… if the law is enforced:
- Individuals caught DUI with a driver’s license under 3 years old: seizure of the vehicle, 3 points reduction from the license, and a fine between LBP 350,000 and 450,000.
- Individuals caught DUI with 0.5 g/L < BAC < 0.8 g/L: seizure of the vehicle, 3 points reduction from the license, and a fine between LBP 350,000 and 450,000.
- Individuals caught DUI with 0.8 g/L < BAC < 1 g/L: seizure of the vehicle, 4 points reduction from the license, and a fine between LBP 500,000 and 700,000.
- Individuals caught DUI with BAC > 1 g/L: seizure of the vehicle, 6 points reduction from the license, and a fine between LBP 1,000,000 and 3,000,000.
Chapter 2: Key Takeaways
How much is 0.5 g/L? While I’ll explain this further in Chapter 3: A Lesson in Science, a general rule of thumb is that 2 standard drinks in the first hour will raise your BAC to 0.5 g/L. Drinking 1 drink per hour after that will maintain your BAC at that level. Note that, drinking 2 glasses of water after every glass of alcohol can help you avoid dehydration.
No matter where you drive in Lebanon, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC over 0.5 g/L. Yet every year, especially in the festive season, people get behind the wheel and attempt to drive back home, with a body full of alcohol, a car full of friends, a road full of assholes, and a mother full of dread waiting back home.
Today, in this age, there’s no excuse for drinking and driving. Not when smartphones give you access to car service apps, a whole index of taxi numbers, or simply, another friend’s phone number to drive you back home. No, this doesn’t affect or diminish your manliness. It keeps you safe, protects others, and ensures your money and car keys stay in your pocket. Stay safe and don’t become another statistic.