Monday 26 October, 2020

No need to fear breathalyzer testing, says Road Safety head

(File Photo)

(File Photo)

Come January 1, 2020 motorists will be required to submit to breathalyzer testing if instructed by law enforcement to do so.

President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA), Sharmane Roland-Bowen is assuring the public the new measure is not to “take people’s licenses away” but rather to keep the "roads safe for everyone".

In an interview with Loop, Roland-Bowen said the BRSA is pleased that years of lobbying for breathalyzer testing has now become a reality. She said the policy has come at a “very good time” considering many people will be flocking to the island for the We Gatherin activities next year. 

“For We Gatherin we have people that are travelling from all over the world to come to Barbados. The testing comes at a very good time because these people are coming from countries where they are protected under the law from those who drink and drive to Barbados where they will now also be protected. We want to ensure the roads are safe for everyone.”

The road safety advocate emphasized breathalyzer testing is not a policy to target those who consume alcohol.

“The law is not telling people that they cannot drink alcohol. You can drink any amount of alcohol you want, just don’t get behind the wheel. This [testing] is to protect everybody using our roads. If you want to drink then get a designated driver whether it is a taxi or a friend.”

Under the amendments to the Road Traffic Act being in violation of the prescribed blood alcohol limit, which has been set at 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.08), will result in a fine of $5 000 or imprisonment for a term of two years, or both in the case of a first conviction. In the case of a second conviction, a fine of $10 000 or imprisonment for a term of five years, or both will be imposed. A person can be disqualified from holding a driver’s license for a period of 12 months up to 5 years if convicted. 

Roland-Bowen said the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is in possession of the necessary equipment to administer the testing. She suggested there be a phase implementation to allow those who engage in the practice of consuming alcohol and driving to “pull their socks up”.

The phased start to the testing, she said, could see only drivers who are involved in accidents be required to submit to testing, after which it would be administered to any driver as deemed fit.

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