Drunk-drivers arrested “mostly in the Algarve”

The Algarve is the Portuguese region where most drunk-drivers are arrested. In fact, GNR police say they have caught over 2,200 people driving over the limit in the region in the first eight months of this year.

In 2014, Algarve arrests overall topped 3,240 – way above the number registered in inner city centres like Lisbon (2,313) and Braga (2,810), which boasts Portugal’s largest road network.

The Algarve’s “summer population boost” and “intense nightlife” are the reasons given for the dismal set of numbers.

Although police say they spend a lot of time ramming the message home, drivers continue drinking at the wheel.

The plan now, say police, is to mount more ‘Stop’ operations.

Lieutenant-colonel Lourenço da Silva told Lusa news agency that the idea is to arrest so many people that drivers will “finally understand that it isn’t worth driving drunk”.

Already “hardly a night goes by that we don’t mount some kind of Stop operation, planned or unplanned”, he said.

On a national level, GNR police report that the number of people caught drink-driving this year increased by 2,267 to a total of 19,264 by August 18.

PSP police have also noted an increase this year, with 6,459 drivers caught with a blood alcohol count of over 1.2 gms/litre, as opposed to last year’s 5,778.

But as there have been more ‘Stop’ operations than usual, police say this might not mean that more people are recklessly drinking before taking the wheel – just that more are being caught.

While it remains to be seen whether or not police’s intimidation tactics work, the National Institute of Legal Medicine has been cited by ionline.pt as saying that one in three people killed in accidents in Portugal had alcohol in their blood.

The latest fatal accident on the Algarve’s EN125 involved three young people who had been returning from a Vilamoura disco in the early hours of the morning (click here EN125 deaths: victims were “travelling at crazy speed” as they returned home from Vilamoura disco).

These latest deaths brought the total number of fatalities on Algarve roads this year to 30 – double the amount of last year.

In the last 10 years, 611 people died on Algarve roads.