THE FORMER chair of the Slovak National Party (SNS), Ján Slota, could face up to one year in prison as the District Prosecutor’s Office in Čadca has charged him with a misdemeanour for driving under the influence of an addictive substance. In addition to imprisonment, Slota could also be subject to a fine and a ban from driving, the Sme daily reported in its June 27 issue.
The police detained Slota on May 9 in Čadca after attempting to flee traffic officers. After refusing to submit to a breathalyser test or provide a blood sample, he was automatically deemed to have a blood-alcohol level above 1 part per thousand (and thus liable for criminal prosecution), and was placed in custody, Sme wrote.
“[Slota] displayed evident indications of drunkenness,” a police officer who preferred to remain anonymous told Sme after Slota was detained.
However, for reasons that remain unclear, Slota was released only a few hours after his arrest and as a result avoided the super-fast-tracked proceeding typically used in such cases, Sme reported on its website on May 10.
According to the Slovak Criminal Code, this proceeding can be used if the police catch a suspect while engaged in a criminal act and the potential punishment does not exceed five years in prison.
The process usually lasts 48 hours from the time the police start investigating to the time charges are laid. Officers can subsequently organise a hearing and secure evidence necessary for the prosecutor to pursue a criminal case.
If Slota is found guilty, he faces a stricter punishment that had been introduced by the former government of Iveta Radičová, which, for example, makes driving with a blood-alcohol level higher than 1 part per thousand a crime punishable by up to one year in prison.
In addition, those who refuse to be tested for the presence of alcohol or other addictive substances are automatically considered to have committed a crime (i.e. have a blood-alcohol level above 1 part per thousand). In addition to a fine, courts can also ban convicted people from driving for up to 10 years.
Slota, whose behaviour while intoxicated has been widely reported in the past, chaired the SNS when the party was a member of the first government of Robert Fico in 2006-2010 and served that term as an MP. He was stripped of his party membership in April 2013 due to alleged misuse of party property.
1. Jul 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff