Drivers urge moderation in law banning alcohol
Police, Arrive Alive welcome new bill
Thursday, April 23, 2015
“I think it should be in moderation. If they ketch yuh with one bottle…what is dat,” was Richard Hernandez’s response to the proposed Motor Vehicle Bill which can result in a $5,000 fine and six months in jail for drivers caught with alcohol in their hands. Hernandez, 51, of Petit Valley, said while he did not support drinking and driving it was “sometimes customary” for drivers to “drink one beer.”
Admitting that on some occasions he would take a drink, especially on a Friday, Hernandez said he would now “stop all that.” “I hardly ever drink a beer when I drive but when I do it is just one,” Hernandez added in an interview yesterday. But the Police Service, in embracing the move, said the bill would now force drivers to change their habit of drinking while driving.
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, who resumed duty yesterday after being on vacation, said close to 150 people lost their lives annually on the nation’s roads. Many of them die as a result of drinking and driving. “This is indeed a welcomed move. “Alcohol consumption while driving is a major contributor to road accidents and fatalities. The Police Service will welcome and support any legislation geared towards safety and saving lives on the nation’s roads,” Williams said.
The bill, which was debated in the Senate on Tuesday, makes it an offence for a “person to drive or operate a motor vehicle while having in the cabin area…an opened bottle, container or vessel with any alcoholic beverage.” Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz, who piloted the bill, warned drivers who wanted to drink to park their vehicles and instead have a designated driver.
Cadiz also said there was a 25 per cent drop in road fatalities over the previous year (2013), which in turn was a 43 per cent drop from the previous year (2012) because of the stiff penalties associated with DUI. Arrive Alive president Sharon Inglefield also hailed the legislation as a major step, saying it would be instrumental not only in saving lives but in deterring major collisions.
Saying such laws existed in first world countries, Inglefield, who openly congratulated Cadiz, added, “This piece of legislation will save us from ourselves.” Police Constable Brent Batson of the Road Safety Council, who is currently out of the country, said this new legislation was desperately needed to save lives.
“Without any doubt any piece of legislation that would help reduce the carnage on the nation’s roads is a step in the right direction in saving lives,” Batson said.