Drunk-driving crackdown pays off

A court in the western city of Patras yesterday sentenced a disabled man to six months in prison for drunk driving and traffic police impounded his car following strict instructions from a local prosecutor. Thanassis Mourtzis, 50, who was driving with the use of only his left leg, was released after appealing against the ruling. His car will remain in the hands of the state until the court rules on his case. The chief Patras prosecutor, Anastassios Kanellopoulos, told traffic police last week to stringently implement the law allowing the confiscation of vehicles whose drivers are caught driving well above the speed limit – over 140 kilometers an hour – or whose blood alcohol level is excessively high. Kanellopoulos asked for the measures be enforced in the Patras, Ileia, Aetoloacarnania, Lefkada, Zakynthos and Cephalonia prefectures. Meanwhile, since stricter traffic policing measures began on December 22, with 1,000 officers monitoring Attica roads until January 9, some 40 specialist drunk-driving units have conducted an average of 1,400 breathalyzer tests in Athens each day. About 40 drivers test positive daily, police said. No increase in accidents around the capital, which is common during the festive period, had not been noted, officers added. A senior traffic officer told Kathimerini that thanks mainly to the increased police presence, there had been few crashes and no fatalities on highways as Athenians left the city for the countryside in the days before Christmas. National roads linking Athens with Patras and Thessaloniki, as well as the highway from Thessaloniki to the Turkish border are being policed 24 hours a day over the holidays with 126 squad cars, 33 motorbikes and helicopters all monitoring traffic.