Brazil mayor imposes breathalyzer tests for sober town hall meetings

Mayor Pedro Aureliano da Silva imposed the breathalyzer tests late last year and since then the municipal sessions have become much calmer (AFP Photo/Alain Jocard)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Town hall meetings at a village in Brazil turned into drunken brawls so often that the mayor has resorted to breathalyzer tests before the councillors can take their seats.

The sessions in Pianco in northeast Brazil's Paraiba state had become so notorious the town council is known among locals as "the dog pound" because of all the fighting, news reports said Saturday.

Mayor Pedro Aureliano da Silva imposed the breathalyzer tests late last year and since then the municipal sessions have in fact become much calmer.

One city councillor, Antonio Azevedo Xavier, had a bottle of whiskey fall from his coat pocket during one session, but was not in the least embarrassed.

"All of us lawmakers drink. I myself have five or six drinks a day, on orders from my cardiologist," he said.

Things had really been getting out of hand, the mayor reported.

"If I had not taken this step, the city council would have had to close," he said.