We Need To Talk About The People Against Harsher Drink-Driving Laws
Havana: We have a problem
You know how drink-driving is still tolerated in Malta despite the ridiculous number of deaths on our roads? Well, things might be about to change but some people are arguing they shouldn't. Let's explore the great arguments they must be making.
But first, some background...
When we interviewed Prime Minister Joseph Muscat back in August, he promised to take drink-driving very seriously and said it like it is:
"I think there are many decent countries where it wouldn’t cross your mind to have three or four glasses of wine and then drive home. It would be unacceptable. You would know that you are risking not only your life but other people’s lives and you are risking your driving license. Over here it is almost a standard norm, its part of the game. And it is not just Paceville, it is weddings, it is parties, it’s all the rest. So I think that it is one of the very few areas where I don’t exclude being draconian. Where I would say, look, let’s be hard on those who break the law."
Since then, there have been some promising developments. Like the National Alcohol Policy which the government proposed to reduce alcohol limits and increase penalties. Changes to the law were also proposed.
But one lobby group for restaurants and bars - the GRTU's Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Sector - has criticised the proposed toughening of drink-driving policy:
“I’m not disputing the good intentions behind this policy but the upshot of it is that it will become more expensive for people to go out,” the sector's President Philip Fenech told MaltaToday.
“I’m not saying that businesses fared badly throughout the festive period, but we could already see an element of people opting to stay inside rather than go out.”
Please tell us more about what you're not saying.
“This isn’t a criticism of the anti-drink and driving campaign itself, but an observation in that it will have an effect on the number of times people go out. A couple who used to go out to eat twice a week might now only be able to go out once a week.”
Translation: Let's not protect innocent lives on the road because our bars and restaurants could lose money.
What's next? That we shouldn't punish overcrowded clubs or those serving underage teens, because money?
Apparently. This is what GRTU said about regulation after 74 young people were hospitalised, including many underage victims, after overcrowding in the Paceville club Plus One:
Dude, this is a fine for doing something wrong, not a tax that you must factor into your business plan.
It's not that surprising though. These are the same people who were against the ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and clubs back in 2004. Check out this article where they claimed the ban spelled 'disaster' in its first six days.
Actual words: "God forbid that this decision leads to ruin or to companies going bankrupt... GRTU cooperated and did, and still does, its best to curb smoking. But we wanted things to be brought in a more gradual manner and to be based on voluntary choice. We wanted to create competition between smoking and non-smoking venues and then let the market decide until the other European countries came aboard so that we would not get this negative image among potential tourists.”
Spoiler alert from 2017: Malta is currently one of the hottest tourist destinations and business is booming.