Poland says okay to jailing 'drink cyclists'

2,000 people already imprisoned

A ruling by Poland's

Constitutional Court
means drunken cyclists are now classed alongside drink drivers and face prison if caught.

Some 2,000 Poles are already in prison for riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol.

This ruling simply confirms that the original decisions that put them there, under a law passed back in 2000, were legal

Under that legislation, anyone riding a bike under the influence of alcohol faces a fine or up to two years in prison, depending on the level of intoxication.

Many Polish courts apply the stricter penalty and the average sentence is 11.5 months' imprisonment. This state of affairs has been criticised by both the prison service and some judges.

Jaroslaw Sielecki, a 37-year-old judge from western Poland, called it "absurd and draconian", and added that it could drag whole families into poverty.

He said intoxicated cyclists should be treated like drunken pedestrians, who face a fine rather than jail, as both use their own muscles to achieve motion.

The

Constitutional Court
, however, ruled that cyclists use public roads and are considerably more dangerous than pedestrians because of the speed at which they can travel.

In the UK, cyclists under the influence of drink or drugs can be fined up to £1,000 even though there is no legal requirement for a breathalyser or other tests to prove this.

Drink driving (the offence of driving a motor vehicle with excess alcohol) means an obligatory ban and penalties up to a £5,000 fine and a six-month jail term.

What do you think? Should ‘drink cycling’ be treated in a similar way to drink driving?

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