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New Traffic Laws Take Effect

New traffic laws that significantly increase penalties for offending drivers took effect Sunday, with the minimum fine for a violation now set at 500 rubles and the maximum at 50,000 rubles.

For the first time, drivers who violate traffic rules will face both a monetary fine and a suspended license. One preferred violation of many Moscow drivers — driving on the shoulder to bypass traffic — will see its fine tripled from 500 rubles to 1,500 rubles.

Drivers found to be above the legal limit for alcohol consumption will face both a suspended license and a monetary fine. If a driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test, for instance, his license may now be suspended for up to two years and he would be forced to pay a 30,000-ruble fine, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported.

In accordance with the new rules, the legal limit is set at 0.16 milligrams per liter of expired air. The new rules have introduced another major change: Traffic police will no longer be able to confiscate a driver's license on the spot; they will now need a court decision to do so.

The law also cracks down on repeat offenders. In the first instance of running a redlight, a driver will face a 1,000-ruble fine. Do it again, however, and the fine is 5,000 rubles and a license suspended for up to six months.

Drivers who love to chat on their cellphones while driving will now be hit with a 1,500-ruble fine as opposed to 300 rubles, and an unbuckled seatbelt will cost 1,000 rubles.

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