Latvia began confiscating cars from heavily intoxicated drivers this year, and as hundreds of vehicles began to be confiscated, decided to send them to the Ukrainian military and hospitals.
Seven cars riding on a trailer were on their way to Ukraine from a state impound lot on Wednesday in a snowstorm.
Two hundred cars were seized from drivers with blood alcohol levels higher than 0.15% over two months in the Baltic nation of 1.9 million people.
“It’s really scary when you realize how many cars are driving around with drunk drivers,” said Reinis Poznaks, founder of the NGO that has been tasked by the government with distributing the vehicles to Ukraine.
Poznaks said the two dozen confiscated cars the state has promised to hand over to him every week for sending to Ukraine will test the limits of his largely volunteer operation.
Poznaks said, “Nobody expected that there were so many vehicles drunk and driving, they couldn’t sell them as fast as people were drinking. So I came up with this idea – send them to Ukraine Send it.”
He laughed when he found a Russian flag in one of the seized vehicles, which had been left there by its owner.
After announcing a plea for donations on Twitter a few days after Russia’s invasion began on February 24 last year, the Twitter Convoy has already dispatched nearly 1,200 vehicles. It raised 2 million euros ($2.1 million) through 2022 for vehicle procurement, refurbishment and logistics.
Latvia’s Finance Minister Arvils Esradense said the government was inspired by the NGO’s success to abandon the effort to auction off the vehicles: “We said, well, you can take those cars… and (Poznak) says, ‘Oh, that’s great!'”
“We are prepared to do practically anything to support the Ukrainians.”
In a police raid on Wednesday, where four officers closed a Riga road for half an hour to check every driver for alcohol, no one was found to be drunk.
But last year 4,300 drivers were found to be over the limit on Latvia’s roads, police said, and in 2022 nearly a thousand were involved in accidents.