So far this year 1,058 individuals have been charged for driving under the influence of alcohol and in 23 percent of such cases, where the nationality of the driver was known, it was a foreign citizen who was drunk at the wheel.
Ninety-seven percent of the foreign citizens caught drinking and driving had legal residence in Iceland or an Icelandic address, Fréttabladid reports.
Most of the foreign drivers, or 95 percent, were male, compared to 80 percent of the Icelandic drivers, and the foreign drivers caught drinking were usually older than Icelandic citizens caught drunk at the wheel.
“The number of foreigners has increased immensely in Iceland in the past three to four years,” said Gudbrandur Sigurdsson, chief inspector of the Capital Region Police Traffic Department. “For some reason a certain group of foreigners are more likely to drive drunk than others. It could be their cultural background, though it is also illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol in their home countries.”
Last fall the Road Traffic Directorate and insurance company VÍS translated brochures about driving in Iceland into five different languages with special emphasis on penalties for traffic violations. Every driver caught drinking and driving who is domiciled in Iceland faces charges and fines and may lose his or her driver’s license.
“At Althjódahús [the Intercultural Center in Reykjavík] we include this information in our Icelandic courses,” said Einar Skúlason, manager of Althjódahús. “But it is difficult for us to demand that foreigners behave better than Icelanders.”