Ukraine war: Latvia sends cars seized from drunk drivers to help Kyivon March 9, 2023 at 1:33 pm

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The confiscated vehicles are being delivered under a Latvian scheme to help the Ukrainian military.

Vehicles confiscated from drunk drivers and being send to UkraineImage source, Reuters

Cars confiscated from drunk drivers in Latvia are being sent to Ukraine, under a new scheme designed to help the war effort there.

Eight seized vehicles left a car pound in the capital, Riga, on Wednesday and are to due to cross the border soon.

It is the first convoy to be sent under the plan, approved by the Latvian parliament last month.

MPs agreed to allow the transfer of state-owned cars to the Ukrainian military and hospitals.

Late last year, Latvia changed the law so that drivers found with 1.5mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – three times the legal limit – could have their vehicles seized and sold by the government.

Latvia has among the worst rates of drinking and driving in Europe, according to public broadcaster LSM, with an estimated 3,500 cases a year.

The change in the law led to a surge in confiscations that filled state pounds in Latvia in a matter of weeks.

As a result, authorities pledged to hand over two dozen cars a week to Twitter Convoy, a Latvian charity that sends donated vehicles to Ukraine.

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

The first eight cars had a combined value of about €18,500 (£16,500), according to Latvian website Delfi. One owner had left a Russian flag pinned on his seized vehicle, Reuters reported.

About a quarter of Latvia’s population are ethnic Russians and Latvia moved fast after the Russian invasion of Ukraine to ban dozens of websites assessed as disseminating Kremlin propaganda.

Vladimir Putin has repeatedly sought to justify the war in Ukraine as providing protection for Russian-speakers with the Kremlin’s protection. 

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