A member of parliament for the Socialist Party (PS) was arrested last Friday in Lisbon for driving under the influence of alcohol – Glória Araújo had 2.41 grams of alcohol per litre of blood, which is over the legal limit (0.5g/l) and is considered a crime (1.2g/l and over).
The socialist MP has declined to make any comments about the incident that took place on Friday, January 4, on her 37th birthday.
Glória Araújo has been a member of parliament since 2005, elected by the Porto PS commission.
The spokesman for the PS parliamentary group, Luis Rego, has also refused to make any comments regarding the incident.
The MP was detained during a police road stop in the Lisbon city centre at 3.20am and has been summoned to appear before a criminal court.
According to the criminal code, a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine of up to 120 days are applied to those who commit the crime of driving under the excessive influence of alcohol. The driving licence can also be seized for a period that varies between three months and three years.
However, politicians can bail themselves out from these inconvenient circumstances quite easily.
The chairman of the parliamentary committee on Ethics, Communication and Citizenship, Mendes Bota (also an Algarve PSD MP), stated that up until Wednesday (when the Algarve Resident went to press) no request for parliamentary immunity to be lifted had been received regarding Glória Araújo’s case.
Requests for parliamentary immunity to be lifted are under the responsibility of the ethics commission and are usually approved.
Parliamentary immunity allows members of parliament to be granted partial immunity from prosecution. In other words, the case is considered dismissed prior to a jury verdict.
However, “no MP can hide behind the immunity veil,” said Mendes Bota, making no comments about the MP’s particular case.
“MPs are human beings and make mistakes,” he added.
Although Glória Araújo has taken part in workshops on road safety, such as the inter-parliamentary road safety committee in September 2008 and a seminar to discuss the national strategy for road safety in Lousada in March 2009, she appears to have ignored the message passed during these events.