Latvia Punishes Drunk Drivers by Donating Their Cars to Ukraine

    A photo of a car getting towed by police. The government of Latvia is seizing cars and donating them to Ukraine.

    Photo: STRMX (AP)

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    The government of Latvia is killing two birds with one stone with a new program that sends the cars it seizes from drunk drivers to Ukraine to support its war against Russia.

    Latvia, a country of roughly 1.9 million people, has the highest drunk driving rate in all of Europe, according to the BBC News. In 2022, it registered 4,300 drivers who surpassed the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.5%. That same year, the Latvian government passed a law that allows it to seize and sell the cars of drunk drivers with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.

    However, the Latvian government seizes so many cars that it can’t auction them off fast enough, and they rapidly fill up its public warehouses. In the first two months of 2023, authorities in the country had already seized 200 vehicles. After receiving a proposal from the NGO Twitter Convoy, which delivers donated vehicles to Ukraine’s front lines or to use as makeshift ambulances, the government decided to send its seized cars to Ukraine bolster the country’s resistance against the Russian invasion.

    The first delivery of seized Latvian cars made its way to the Ukrainian front lines this week. Latvia plans to donate two dozen confiscated cars to Twitter Convoy per week.

    “No one expected that people are drunk driving so many vehicles, they can’t sell them as fast as people are drinking. So that’s why I came with the idea – send them to Ukraine,” Reinis Poznaks, founder of Twitter Convoy, told Reuters.

    The first eight cars seized under the new law had a combined value of around €18,500, or $19,600. In fact, a former owner stuck a Russian flag on their seized vehicle, which made Poznaks laugh, Reuters reported.

    Twitter Convoy has delivered more than 1,200 cars to hospitals and soldiers in Ukraine, the outlet stated. The NGO has also managed to raise $2 million to buy vehicles and help Ukraine with infrastructure and logistics during the war.

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