A new survey in the United Arab Emirates has revealed some alarming statistics on alcohol consumption: Around 68 percent of UAE residents believe they can get away with drunk driving because the risk of getting caught is low, a local newspaper reported Sunday.
According to Gulf News, the survey conducted by 999 magazine and published by the Ministry of Interior, revealed that 74 per cent of the population believe the penalty for the offence is severe, yet they still choose to overlook the consequences.
The survey, which polled 1,850 UAE residents —locals and expatriates — on their attitude towards drink-driving found that only less than a third (32 per cent) believe there is a high risk of getting caught for this offence.
But 96 per cent of respondents were against allowing drivers on the road even if they were only “slightly intoxicated.”
A sizeable minority (26 per cent) claimed that the penalties are, in fact, not strict enough. Despite this, the police say the present fines can be very harsh, depending on the severity of the crime.
“A survey, however, reveals that despite a vast majority of residents supporting the government’s zero-tolerance stance on drink-driving, an alarming number of people still continue to indulge in this deplorable act,” said Lt Colonel Awad Saleh Al Kindi, Editor-in-Chief of 999.
His comment referred to the shocking statistic that 31 per cent of the respondents have known someone to commit the offence in the past 12 months, indicating that the widespread campaigns and the severe penalties imposed on the offenders is being ignored.
Kindi was keen to point out that some UAE residents, however, conform to the rules.
“On a positive note, we are pleased to know that most residents support the UAE’s stance on this issue. We hope that by pro-actively helping each other in raising awareness on this issue, we can successfully put a stop to this and effectively make the UAE an even safer place to live.”
In July 2010, a driver from Abu Dhabi was sentenced to 80 lashes and a fine of 26,000 dirhams ($7,000) for a reported seven alcohol-related and traffic incidents. He was convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol, the consumption and possession of the substance, violation of public decency, sudden swerving, violating traffic rule and damaging another vehicle.
(Additional writing by Matthew Bolton)