News and Public Information
Press Release

PAHO praises Brazil for passing new legislation on alcohol and driving considered a model for the Americas

Washington, D.C., July 31, 2008 (PAHO)—On behalf of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Director, Dr. Mirta Roses, praised Brazil and congratulated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for recently promulgated legislation on driving and alcohol that sets an example and represents a true model for the Americas to follow with regards to road safety and the prevention of deaths and injuries in the hemisphere.

In an official letter dated July 14, Dr. Roses praised President Lula for Law 11.705, passed on June 19th, because "its pioneering content will serve as a pattern for behavioral change" among the population in Brazil with respect to road safety and prevention of injury and deaths, particularly among youth. The new legislation, Dr. Roses emphasized, represents "model legislation for the rest of the countries in the Americas" where the influence of alcohol plays a disturbing and problematic role in the rates of injuries and deaths.

With the new law, the government of Brazil has altered prior laws related to road safety and alcohol, setting up a virtual zero level of blood alcohol content while driving. Severe penalties have also been enacted for those not adhering to the new limits set by the legislation.

The effects of the new law have been noticed immediately. The law also sets new and strong restrictions on alcohol advertising. From now on, all establishments and shops that sell alcoholic products will have to prominently place warnings stating that it is a crime to drink and drive.

In her letter to President Lula da Silva, Dr. Roses indicates that between 20 and 50% of all accidents in transit are linked to alcohol. In Brazil alone, the resulting number of fatalities is 35.000 annually.

We know that precisely because the new legislation promotes behavioral change, it will be opposed by those who feel that their interests are being threatened, said Dr. Roses. The same happened with legislation on tobacco control and those voices were silenced.

"The enactment of this new law by the government of Brazil is a very important milestone for the Region", said Dr. Eugenia Maria Rodrigues, PAHO’s Regional Advisor on Road Safety.

"Many people that suffer and cause injuries in transit have alcohol as an associated risk factor. Many lives are unnecessarily lost daily. And many more suffer disabilities.

In the Americas, many people drink and drive. With this new law, Brazil becomes a model for other countries in the Americas where there is a need to implement similar legislation", Dr. Rodrigues said.

NEW PAHO PUBLICATIONS

PAHO, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

60 Years of the WHO
60 Años de la OMS

For more information please contact , PAHO, Public Information, 202-974-3459.