New regulations in Belgium from 1 June include stricter drink-driving rules

A number of new rules come into force in Belgium on 1 June, on drink-driving, conversion of cars and public swimming areas.

Stricter drinking regulations

As of 1 June, people who reach a 1.2 blood alcohol level while driving will have their licence revoked immediately. The threshold was previously 1.5. Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) made the decision in consultation with the ministers of Justice and the Interior.

The road safety institute Vias and the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Knowledge say the decision is a step in the right direction, but the non-profit OVK, which represents parents of children killed in traffic accidents, is not satisfied with the change. “It is incomprehensible: you are sending a signal that it is still OK to drink up to 1.2 blood alcohol level,” said spokesperson Koen Van Wonterghem. The three organisations all advocate zero tolerance behind the wheel.

In Belgium, drink-driving is punishable from 0.5 blood alcohol level, or 0.5 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. This is the threshold for immediate suspension of the driver's licence. Drunk drivers receive at least a three- to six-hour temporary driving ban followed by a fine.

“It is incomprehensible: you are sending a signal that it is still OK to drink up to 1.2 blood alcohol level”

Retrofitting cars

For those who want to convert a car with a combustion engine into an electric vehicle, a royal decree with a legal framework will come into play from 1 June.

Retrofitting, or installing new parts to existing cars, was already possible in Belgium; however, adapted vehicles had to be approved abroad and subjected to a technical inspection in Belgium. This was a "complicated, lengthy and costly procedure that discouraged the most motivated companies and citizens", according to the Federal Public Service Mobility.

The royal decree will change this as it states that fuel tanks may be removed and lists several technical regulations. For example, the power, the original dimensions and the technically permissible mass of the vehicle may not change.

“Retrofit is an excellent example of the circular economy applied to the automotive industry," said Gilkinet.

'Blacklist' for disturbing the peace

In a new swimming regulation in East Flanders, visitors must now present their identity card when swimming in a provincial area. Those who misbehave may be denied access. This comes after several violent incidents in 2022 involving recreational areas with places to swim.

The result is a "blacklist" that parks and swimming areas will use to refuse entrance to people involved in previous disturbances. 



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