Driving under the influence of alcohol and police powers

18.03.2016. 15:25

The Ministry would like to refer to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations (1961) and remind that without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State.

Thus, if the Police Authorities have reasonable grounds to assume that a privileged person is driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or certain medicines, they may take preventive measures to ensure that the driver does not endanger himself or others. In the interests of public order the Police Authorities have the right to take action against the violator to eliminate his or her further participation in the road traffic, using measures that do not contradict the Vienna Conventions. The Police Authorities have the right to flag down a privileged person and ask to identify himself or herself. The privileged person must show to the Police Authorities his or her diplomatic identity card and, if asked to do so, hand it over for verification. The Police Authorities do not, however, have the power to confiscate identity cards. They must return the card to the privileged person once they have checked his or her identity.

The Police Authorities may also use testing equipment such as breathalysers. The breathalyser test shows whether a driver has exceeded the statutory limit. This is currently a blood alcohol level of 0.5 per mille % per litre of exhaled air (for drivers with less than two years of Drives Licence and all drivers with D1, D, D1E, DE, TRAM, TROL Licence - 0.2 per mille % per liter of exhaled air).

Privileged persons are requested to cooperate with these tests as the tests provide a simple way of determining whether a driver is in fact driving under the influence of alcohol. At the same time they cannot be compelled to do so. In controversial situations the privileged person may request the presence of an Embassy representative.

The Ministry highly appreciates Embassies and diplomats who demonstrate a responsible attitude and respect for the laws and regulations of the receiving state, setting a positive example of diplomats as persons of high ethical standards and culture. At the same time, the Ministry and the respective authorities would like to request them to assess the given situation self-critically, and to cooperate with Latvian law enforcement institutions.