Drink Driving in Lebanon


The parked car that was smashed up by a drink driver the next morning

I admit to drinking and then driving home in Lebanon. It is something I would not even contemplate doing in the UK and shows how stupid and lemming like I can be. And I don’t want to be a hypocrite but far too many people drink drive in this country and drink to levels where they cannot even walk straight and then drive home. For the second time outside my house a car smashed into one of the cars parked alongside the street. I was woken up by the now to familiar screech and bang. The guy could not even walk straight when he got out of the car, he was completely wasted. Matt Nash did a nice article on Lebanese roads in 2008:

The law has been amended but remains flawed. For example, it does not make seatbelt use mandatory, and only in 1995 was driving drunk outlawed, though the amendment concerned does not define “drunk.”

When this guy got out the car completely wasted he was not arrested by the ISF who were promptly on the scene but instead ordered to give his insurance details. This will not be a great suprise to anyone, as Fady Gebrane, president of the traffic-safety-focused NGO Kunhadi told Nash:

“First of all it doesn’t tackle everything,” he said. “For example, drunk driving is not included, which is the second [leading] reason for accidents in Lebanon.”

What is amazing is that there is so little discussion about this issue. Type into google “drink driving lebanon” and little to nothing comes up concerning Lebanon, it is all about drink driving in the US. It is amazing that in a country where around 2/3rds are not even supposed to drink alcohol that there is no outrage at the number of accidents that are caused by drink driving. In the UK drink driving is a mortal offence and a subject that gets a lot of air time. That guy who crashed outside my apartment in Beirut would have been dragged out of his car and marched straight to jail in the UK; not asked for his address and his insurance details like it was an ordinary accident!

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5 comments
  1. Lynn said:

    Great article and very true..I’m glad that most of the people I’m surrounded by on a regular basis take driving into consideration when they decide to drink..

    btw, just a note..it’s known as ‘drunk’ driving =)

    • deensharp said:

      Hey Lynn and Leila,

      Welcome to the blog.

      Lynn note made me notice for the first time one of those US/UK divides. I have no idea why but in the UK we call it drink driving and in the US it is drunk driving.

      Leila unfortunately in this case I don’t even think you need connections there is just not the will by the police to enforce this law. There just is not the cultural pressure and shame about drink driving in Lebanon as there is elsewhere.

  2. Leila said:

    It really is ridiculous how Lebanon fails with pressuring the people to obey the laws. It seems as though what ever you need to get out of trouble here is “connections” with people who have “connections”. This is why Lebanon is screwed up on many levels. If we dismissed all that bs then maybe people would have no choice but to follow the rules!

  3. Ghinwa said:

    I like to drink when i drive 😦

  4. Sanne said:

    Dean, you are so right. People think it’s a basic human right to drink and to drive… I still don’t get it (after 2½ years in this country). Hope you are doing fine; say hi to the wife 😉

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