|By AZARD ALI Tuesday, August 23 2016|
KESHORN WALCOTT’s bronze medal on Saturday in Brazil at the 2016 Olympics in the javelin- throwing competition, cost a motorist in Trinidad $6,000 when he opted to celebrate the occasion by drinking too many beers.
Shane Ramcharan, 46, appeared before Magistrate Taramatee Ramdass in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court yesterday, having been arrested at midnight Saturday along the Naparima Mayaro Road in Cocoyea, near the southern city.
Some four hours before, at about 8 pm, Walcott, defending his 2012 achievement of winning gold, had thrown the javelin in the finals of the 2016 competition and copped Trinidad and Tobago’s only medal at the Rio Games.
Ramcharan pleaded guilty to the charge that the alcohol content in his breath was beyond the prescribed legal limit of 35 microgrames per 100 milliliters of breath.
The court police prosecutor, Sergeant Cassiram Lutchman, told Ramdass that during a roadblock exercise, Ramcharan was driving a vehicle when he was stopped by a police officer. He was administered a breathalyser test and, according to the prosecutor, the alcohol level was 79 mg per 100 ml of breath. He was charged with the offence of driving under the influence of alcohol.
When the magistrate asked Ramcharan why he was out that time of the night driving a vehicle while drunk, he said that he was having a bit of a celebration with friends. Ramcharan said, “I wanted to go home, but I was celebrating Keshorn Walcott javelin throw.” Ramdass asked Ramcharan if he was alone at the time and he replied that he was with a group of friends. “We was just celebrating the throw, it was a good throw,” Ramcharan said. Ramdass told Ramcharan that celebrating is not an offence, but it is getting into a car while under the influence of alcohol in which one exceeds the legal limit, that has consequences.
The magistrate fined Ramcharan $6,000 and if he fails to pay, he will spend one year in jail with hard labour.
He was granted two months to pay. In the same court and before the same magistrate, a number of drivers pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and a few sought to justify it by telling Ramdass that they were unaware they were drunk.
Curt Gonzales, who said he had two shots of Puncheon rum and two beers, said, “I was feeling normal.” But how did you know you was feeling “normal”, Ramdass asked? “I was seeing good,” Gonzales replied. Ramdass said that it is impossible for a driver to ascertain whether his mental and physical faculties have not been compromised, if he or she had not been measured by some device, how they were functioning before they drank alcohol, and, afterwards.
She said, “If you come here and said you had a few drinks but you were feeling normal, how can you tell. Go and get yourself tested before you drink, and afterwards. You cannot rely on your feelings, to determine whether beyond the legal limit, alcohol has, or not affected you.” When Seuraj Boorilal, 28, of Siparia, appeared before the magistrate, he confessed, “I had real plenty beers.” His breath contained a whopping 146 micrograms of alcohol, which was 111 micrograms of alcohol over the legal limit.
Lutchman, told Ramdass, that at about 1.15 am on Sunday at La Fortune, Woodland on the outskirts of La Romaine, police officers were on a road-block exercise. PC Sujeet Ramcharan administered a breathalyser test to Boorilal. Ramdass heard that in February 2015, Boorilal was charged with a similar offence and he was made to pay a hefty fine.
Asked why the court should not consider sending him to jail, Boorilal said that he had no intention of driving that night and in fact was accompanied by a designated driver – a woman. But Boorilal told the magistrate that the woman had begun to vomit and he took the responsibility over from her to drive.
Ramdass asked him how much he had to drink and the defendant replied, “I had real plenty.” “But why a young man like you drinking so much?” the Magistrate asked. are you not concerned what would happen with your organs in your body?,” Ramdass asked.
Because of his previous conviction, Ramdass fined Boorilal $15,000 or five years in jail, telling him that he was very fortunate a jail term was not imposed on him.
He was also told to hand over his driver’s permit, which the magistrate ordered be suspended for the next two years