Motorists from a total of 59 countries have been stopped and arrested so far this year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs on Norwegian roads. Drivers from Poland, Lithuania and Sweden topped the statistics.
Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that the vast majority of the 4,855 offenders were, naturally enough, Norwegian drivers. They accounted for 3,928 of the arrests, followed by 264 Poles, 185 Lithuanians, 94 Swedes, 45 Latvians and 37 Danes.
Police reported that Norway, known for its tough punishment for drunk driving, has relatively few cases of driving under the influence, compared with other countries. “Norway has a long tradition of low blood-alcohol limits and automatic prison terms,” Rolf Larsen of the state police told Dagsavisen.
While most of the foreign drunk drivers caught were from Europe, 59 came from other continents, including eight from Brazil, and five from the US, Thailand and Chile. In one headline-making case, a diplomat at the South African Embassy was suspected of multiple drunk-driving offenses including one in which he crashed into another car in Oslo and severely injured its driver. He avoided prosecution, however, by claiming diplomatic immunity in a move that has angered the crash victim and sparked strong criticism in Norway of the embassy and its ambassador as well.