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  • Writer's pictureOscar Schulze Casademunt

Groningen Drifts into Top Ten Municipalities in the Netherlands for Drink Driving Offences

The municipality ranks ninth in the country in fines distributed for drink driving.


Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or particular medications can obviously cause safety issues on the road, but can also result in the loss of a driver's license and car insurance.


Studies show that drunk drivers with a low blood alcohol content are 40% more likely to crash than sober drivers, while drivers with a very high blood alcohol content are over twenty times as likely to crash than their sober counterparts.


According to a study conducted by the Dutch insurance comparison website Independer, Groningen ranks highly for drink driving fines, distributing 1320 charges last year.


In 2023, there were 25.6 fines per 10,000 residents aged 15 or older, a 16.3% increase compared to pre-coronavirus levels in 2019, when 1135 fines were given out.


The upward trend can be seen throughout the Netherlands, with an increase of 31% between 2019 and 2023. The full range of data, from 2012 to 2023, can be seen in the graph below.


Increase in drink driving fines in the Netherlands

So, although there has been a slight decrease in fines between 2022 and 2023, the overall number has jumped since the pandemic.


Despite this worrying trajectory, the night mayor of Groningen is not concerned. Merlijn Poolman, 36, was surprised when asked whether he knew about the surge in drink driving fines since 2019. “Not at all,” he says, “this is news to me, but it’s a shocking development.”


Merlijn explains that he has not seen evidence of drink driving on the streets of Groningen, because young people in the centre almost exclusively do not drive. “Only outsiders really use cars,” he reckons.


Increased spending on public transport could be a way to tackle the problem, suggests Merlijn. “Budget cuts in public transport mean people can only get back from a night out by car,” he says.


Indeed, the number of bus stops across the Netherlands has fallen since 2018, with 1,500 fewer spots along Dutch roads in 2023. In Groningen particularly there has been a 15% decrease in bus stops across the last five years.


Merlijn says more public transport will not be able to fix the problem on its own, but it’s a possible solution. “I can’t say for sure,” he says, “but it would be interesting to investigate the link.”

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