Duma scraps ‘don’t drink and walk’ bill

RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov
The Russian Lower House has rejected a suggestion to introduce fines for pedestrians who refuse to undergo medical sobriety tests, but will continue to work on the bill that punishes those who refuse to allow themselves to be checked for illegal drug use.

The bill, originally submitted to the parliament by the government was altered before its second reading and published on the State Duma’s website on Monday. Lawmakers removed articles ordering fines of between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles ($72 - $90) or up to 15 days detention for those who reject law enforcers’ demands to undergo sobriety tests.

The provisions were a part of a broader administrative law that forbids the consumption of alcohol in public places. An explanation attached to the motion reads that even if the tests prove a suspect is drunk, it will be necessary to prove that he or she was drinking in a public place and not somewhere where it is allowed – at home or in a restaurant.

The restrictions remain for illegal drugs and psychotropic substances. The bill allows any “empowered official” to demand citizens undergo medical tests for drug use if there is suspicion these citizens are under the influence.

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The bill also doesn’t touch on the existing ban on alcohol consumption in public places – it will remain an offence punishable by a fine of up to 1500 rubles ($27). Foreigners who drink where it is not allowed face deportation from Russia in addition to the fine.

The second reading of the controversial bill is scheduled for July 1.