Trinidad & Tobago implements Breathalyzer law – Barbados government fails to protect citizens from drunken driving

Trinidad & Tobago roads just became safer thanks to new breathalyzer laws and equipment that will allow T&T police to scientifically test drivers for sobriety. Like all new laws and procedures, it will probably take some time to iron out the wrinkles but the police will be out in force with the breathalyzers in time for Christmas. (see T&T Express article Drunks Beware)

Barbados Free Press has been pushing for a breathalyzer law for coming up on four years now. During that four years, successive governments and Ministers promised a dozen times but delivered nothing – including the latest promise a few weeks ago.

After almost two years in office, the Thompson DLP Government has done nothing to address the serious problem that our country lacks enforceable, modern drunk-driving laws.

Think about that folks – in practically every civilized jurisdiction in the world when there has been an accident and the police suspect the driver might have had even one beer, the driver has to blow into a breathalizer machine to prove how much alcohol is in his or her body. We know that some people can drink lots and not “look” like they are drunk, but they shouldn’t be driving. The breathalizer provides scientific evidence so there is no doubt.

In the last four years we have seen some horrible accidents and even mass accidents – but our law enforcement officers have no way of testing to see how much those drivers had been drinking.

The first job of government is to protect the citizens, and successive BLP and DLP governments have failed to protect the citizens when it comes to drunken driving.

Another senseless road death with Barbados Police unable to breathalizer test for drunken driving

Another fatal accident with no sobriety test for the driver

One cyclist was killed and five others were injured when they were struck by an auto driven by Tremaine Sargeant along Lowlands, Christ Church at about 5:30am Saturday morning. (Nation News: 1 dead, 5 injured)

Dead is Percival Niles of Newton, Christ Church. Husband, father of two children.

Barbados Police were unable to test the sobriety of the driver of the car that struck Mr. Niles because Barbados does not have modern anti-drinking and driving laws.

Because no Barbados government in the last 43 years cared enough about road safety and the safety of citizens to actually do something about drunken driving.

A simple truth.

(Photo courtesy of Nation News)

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45 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police

45 responses to “Trinidad & Tobago implements Breathalyzer law – Barbados government fails to protect citizens from drunken driving

  1. peltdownman

    BFP
    The silence is deafening!

  2. Crusoe

    This is not only horrific, but senseless.

    My condolences to the Niles family, especially his wife and children. Two brothers who are so respectful and well presented and for this to happen is terrible. These are men presenting a role model for a lifestyle of contribution, health and completeness, that such a horror is even more sad.

    It is terrible that only a horror suchy as this will make the authorities institute drink driving laws and suffucient tests and manpower to address.

    We all know how many times that we have been behind a drive who veers all over the road and narrowly misses serious accidents such as this, muctimes because of drink.

    It is now demanded that these laws and proper addressing therein be brought to bear.

    Or do the nightclubs and rum producers have such power that this is resisted?

    It would also be good that drivers of publis service vehicles also be tested for drink and drugs, as a matter of course, at random on an ongoing basis.

    That is, IF we are going to take things seriously.

    May the Almighty treat the families well.

  3. Observer

    May Mr. Niles rest in peace. He was a good husband, great father and an honest building contracter. Speaking from personal experience. My sympathies to his entire family. I hope his passing will encourage those in authority to move with haste in implementing breathalyzer laws right here in Barbados. I cannot understand for the life of me why the inaction…

  4. yatinkiteasy

    Why do we assume the driver was drunk? Was he even a licensed driver? Was the car licensed and insured?
    Was he talking on a cell phone (probably more dangerous than driving with a few drinks)Was he high on drugs?
    Too many questions…
    So sorry for the family of the innocent victim.

  5. Sundowner

    This was a terrible tragic avoidable accident. I hope that implementing breathalyzer laws in Barbados happens very quickly so more incidents like can be prevented.
    I leave for work very early some mornings (4.30am) & especially on Saturdays, the reckless (I assume drunken) driving we encounter is amazing & frightening.

  6. RLL

    Why do we have all of the trappings of civilisation but none of the foundations? The Americans have a saying “all show, no go” that describes Barbados precisely.

  7. passin thru

    peltdownman say the silence is deafening and that is true. Every year some politician promises drunk driving laws and every year the newspapers report the promise without mentioning that the politicians promised the same thing last year and before.

    Thank you BFP for keeping it real and cutting through the bullshit.

  8. BFP

    Hi yatinkiteasy,

    We don’t assume that the driver was drunk. We only know that the police have no way of telling one way or the other. Same as all the other mass-casualty motor vehicle accidents bout hey.

  9. —————Driving
    Driving on Maui is a little different than most other places. There are no freeways on the island and 55 mph is that fastest speed limit. Most speed limits are slower than you would expect so watch them close. You will also notice that cars tend to pull out in front of you often. It may seem like they are not giving you enough time to stop safely, but before you cuss and blow your horn, take a look at the speed limit and your speedometer. You are likely driving too fast.

    Horns are decidedly uncool on Maui. Obviously, if you are in a parking lot and someone is backing into you, you need to let them know. But no matter how wrong someone is in traffic, blasting your horn to let them know what you think is frowned upon. Remember the “Aloha Spirit” and relax. You are on vacation and should leave the stress behind. You’ll notice “most” drivers will leave plenty of space between cars in traffic. Please do the same.

    Local police do set up drunk driver checkpoints on a random basis for the safety of everyone on the island. To avoid tickets or accidents, take a cab if you plan to be out drinking. If you will attend a luau, remember there will be an open bar. For this reason, The Frog always advises those that drink to attend a luau that is close to where you are staying so you can take a cab home if you have no designated driver with you.

    Most of Maui’s highways have bicycle lanes and there are lots of bike riders. To avoid a ticket or a tragedy, stay within your lane. Especially when going around curves.

  10. Crusoe

    Not Bajan,

    Thanks for posting, but those Maui rules are so sensible, why would we even think of adopting them?

    Remember, we like to pretend this is Manhattan, where you can drive at 80, step out of the Merc and into a restaurant, posing big.

    We have got so hotshot, that we don’t need rules and can do what we like.

    Patience, what is that? Most bajans on the roads now take every opportunity to blast away at someone else.

    A society losing its way surely.

    As RLL says, ‘all show, no go’.

    Is that our new motto, to replace Pride and Industry’?

  11. bp

    @ yatinkiteasy
    Why do we assume the driver was drunk?

    He still had his Harbour Lights wrist band on.

  12. FLY TRAP

    I endorse your points yatinkiteasy. I empathise with the Niles family. We are living in an environment where the moment something ‘wrong’ happens we have to run, like the USA, and pass a law “to fight the problem.” …. if it keeps going on like this, soon we will not be able to leave our homes.

  13. debtlawyer

    I always think that it is a dangerous, slippery slope that we walk when we look to increased laws and government to “solve” some apparent problem. Laws of the type that you are looking for are currently being abused at a high level by municipalities starving for revenue during the downturn here in the US. They lower the level of acceptable alcohol in the bloodstream to a ridiculously low level, then set up roadblocks and sting operations to harness thousands of dollars in fines and fees for the government, when the driver is less impaired than someone talking on a cell phone or engaged in conversation with a passenger. Be careful what you ask for.

  14. Crusoe

    ‘Some apparent problem’.

    What do you mean ‘apparent’? People have been killed due to drink driving, before this incident.

    Most get away with a fine.

    The problem is real. As for ‘less impaired’?

    Alcohol affects judgement and reaction time which affects ability to react to situations, thus is a contributor to potential accidents.

  15. RLL

    debtlawyer is one of the reasons why we can’t progress as a country. They assume that having no laws against destructive behaviour is better than having laws that allow society to limit the damage of the 1% of people who don’t care about the rest of us.

    In Barbados that means that when a driver kills an innocent bicycle rider the police have no way of testing the driver to see if he has been drinking too much.

    The blood of Percival Niles is on the hands of debtlawyer and the politicians who failed to protect innocent people from drunken drivers.

  16. 138

    Another cyclist killed this morning in a hit and run. Don Stoute was riding up by Automotive Art Six Roads this morning when a driver hit him and did not stop.

    Here is a Facebook link http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=207566687016&ref=nf That was set up in response to these accidents for those who are facebook members.

  17. islandgirl

    ATTENTION: debtlawyer

    What would you be saying now if your daughter had been killed by a drunk driver on her way to school? Would you still think laws against drinking and driving were ridiculous or would you blame the goverment for not protecting citezens? It’s people like you who don’t seem to realize that this could happen to anyone, school children as well as other drivers (who are not coming home from nightclubs). It’s no different than shooting someone with a shotgun. It’s murder.

  18. BAjan21

    Why is everyone assuming that the driver of the incident saturday morning could of probably be drunk, what if the driver fell asleep behind the wheel what would they say?

  19. Nonsense

    Wat duz de law seh bout bicycles on de abc highway ?

  20. yatinkiteasy

    Go to Holland and see what they have done to ensure road safety for bicycle riders…almost every highway and country road has a separate bike lane..
    As a result hundreds of thousands use a bike daily, instead of a car.

  21. islandgirl

    -BAjan21

    What if it was your brother who was killed? What would you say about that?
    It is a known fact that the driver was drunk. He was still wearing his Harbour Lights band. He could’nt even stand up he was so drunk. If he fell asleep behind the wheel, it’s because he had to much to drink.

    Nonsense

    What does the law say about people crossing the road where there is no cross walks?

    Any how the cyclist were on the verge, not the highway. They would have been safer on the highway, cause the guy was cruising down the verge. One of the victums is my uncle.

  22. A concerned road user

    Oh where to even begin to start on this one,,,heres a few thoughts to ponder over. As for the driver being under the influence of alcohol, speaking with persons who were there at the scene, the driver of the vehicle was so intoxicated that by seven o’clock (an hour and a half) AFTER the accident he was still unable to make a simple sentence without slurring his voice.
    Lets forget he hit a cyclist for a moment and think of him hitting a group of morning walkers or even a person who had a flat tyre on their vehicle and was changing it.
    Does this make the situation any more acceptable??? NO it doesn’t.
    After all the dust has settled and opinions are expressed, the driver is WRONG, he rear ended another road user (s) and killed a person in the process.
    Breathalyzer laws would help but honestly the real problem lies in places being allowed to stay open till all hours of the AM still selling alcohol.
    For many years articles have appeared in the newspaper about bars and nightclubs in certain tourist areas etc playing loud music and karaoke all night along with early AM drunkeness creating havoc.
    If this issue has a solution somewhere it starts with some reasonable opening and closing times for places such as nightclubs etc, having designated drivers, and fines for being caught with DUI.
    Remember also that most, if not all competitive road cyclists are also holders of drivers licenses, so they do own cars and other motorized vehicles as well.
    The difference here is they know whats its like dealing with reckless drivers who perform many acts of stupidity on the roads around them during a ride.
    As a cyclist as well, i have seen such poor judgement on the roads from some drivers its amazing more pedestrians and cyclists are not killed.
    Some of the most common reckless moves drivers do to cyclists are: cutting you off for no reason, overtaking when its not safe to do so and passing so close to you for no reason other than its fun or a threat you should not dare be on THEIR road.
    The laws are at present that bicycles are not allowed on the Spring Garden highway, thats it, all other roads are allowed for cyclists. However even the laws that govern signage on the island cant get it right. If you look at the circular sign on the Spring Garden highway it shows a white background with a black bicycle inside a red border.
    THAT signage design means that cycling IS allowed,hmmmm.
    For it not be allowed, a red diagonal line has to be drawn through the image.
    Its a mess that no one in authority wants or cares enough about to touch it, that is until someone in authority loses a family member.
    Maybe only then, will long overdue changes finally be made to safeguard all roadusers.
    In the meantime while they are thinking about it, more pedestrians and cyclists will die for lack of sound reasonable laws and common sense.

  23. Hants

    Another cyclist killed yesterday morning.

    Don Stoute was a great guy.

    Condolences to his family.

  24. John Da Silva

    @a concerned road user. You are wrong about the sign. It means that bicycles are NOT allowed on the road. It is a standard UK road sign. There were also signs on the ABC highway, but now sure if these were replaced after the construction.

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tss/tsmanual/tsmchapter3.pdf

    See the bottom of page 37.

  25. Implementing new laws wouldn’t help.
    A change in attitude of persons operating a vehicle would.

  26. A concerned road user

    Mr Da Silva your link does not work that you included but i still have to disagree with you. Any road signage with a diagonal red line drawn across though the central background image means prohibited use within the areas of the said signage. Examples of this type of signage are no parking at designated times, a single diagonal line, no parking at any time, two red diagonal lines etc.
    Even accepted use of similiar signage such as “no smoking” follows this same design pattern.
    That signage on the Spring Garden highway is (technically) showing there is a bike path or access route provided.
    As for there being “no bicycle’ use signs on any portion of the ABC highway. I have to inform you there have NEVER been any places on the ABC highway where such a sign has been placed.
    Besides this point you chose to focus on, another cyclist was killed yesterday by a reckless driver of a car.
    This time he was wearing a reflective vest, he was on his side of the road, he was, for your benefit, in a “bicycle allowed zone” and he still got rear ended and killed. What part of that equation needs an excuse.

  27. Hope Springs Eternal

    A concerned road user: I agree with every point you have made but here is something for everyone to ponder. We all know where those bars and clubs are located, St. Lawrence Gap and Baxter’s Road so therefore, we can assume that the RBPF also knows where they are. Is it so damn much to expect that the RBPF would have officers present at these locations in the wee hours to stop and check the sobriety of those patrons exiting those clubs? Wuh de ass? Is this too simple for them or are they too busy catching catnaps at the station or in their cars in the wee hours?

  28. Cheryl

    We have elected 30 parliamentary representatives to represent our concerns and cares. The mandate has been clear from the day we became independent. I am pissed that in 2009 that the police dont have the tool or the legislation to give it effect. The blame lies at the feet of the lazy politicians we have in the BLP and DLP. Affirmative Action in the form of a Rally, March or Sit In is the only way we will get action. As Michael Jackson says “They dont Care about Us ” until election time.

  29. Cheryl

    How many of the deadbeat politicians have you heard come out supporting the call for alcohol and drug testing of drivers after these accidents.

  30. Anonymust

    @ACRU,

    John da Silva @2:51pm is RIGHT about the sign!

  31. BAjan21

    -islandgirl

    Okay if it was my brother i would feel very upset, but that doesn’t give you or i the right to assume that the driver was drunk. That stuff about he wearing a Habour lights band means nothing cause i know personally that they are plenty of people who go out at night and don’t drink. Cause i can say that for myself. Also, answer this for me, If you had just killed an innocent person by a mere mistake, tell me would you be able to function the same way you function daily…..”Like hey, i just killed someone but i don’t mind i’m good” of course NOT.. so that could explain why he couldn’t stand up. Funny enough the day after that i was in a minor accident no one was hurt, but the fact that i was in the accident i was so frighten i couldn’t function properly had headaches etc…… so i don’t understand how any of you could come to conclusions that this guy was DRUNK. At the end of the day i’m sorry for the lost, but you or any one else i believe have no right making these assumptions.

  32. CameronEV - Electric Vehicles

    My condolences to all the kin and friends of the people tragically killed.

    These recent fatalities on roadways in Barbados do bring a few points to mind:

    1. Drinking & Driving

    Authorities should have the capability to determine whether alcohol is a contributing factor when investigating any accident and use it as evidence in a Law Court as a minimum. There could be a lot more in place as well as evident in other countries in the world.

    2. The ABC Highway, the Spring Garden Highway, the Errol Barrow Highway

    From experience using these roads, even as a bicyclist riding on the correct side on the verge (side of the road), one must be extremely vigilant at all times. In my testing of electric bicycles over the past few months on the island, my use of these roads was minimal due to safety concerns. With the lack of bicycle lanes and bicycle paths on the island having to use a roundabout in order to simply cross the highway was a must and undertaken with utmost caution. There are road safety issues that should be addressed.

    3. Bicycle Rider and Pedestrian Visibility to other vehicles

    It is understandable that it is remarkably cooler once the sun goes down for either walking or riding a bicycle but one must counter the hazards that exist then as well.

    In both recent bicycle/vehicle accidents the time involved was about the same at 5:30am during the dawn twilight. Both dawn and dusk twilights are a very dangerous time for Bicycle Riders and Pedestrians. It seems the use of reflective clothing is a norm from what I have seen in my visits to Barbados. I suggest to all bicyclists that taking it upon yourselves to also use a forward-facing white light and a very visible rear-facing red light along with reflectors and reflective clothing greatly enhances the ability to be seen on the roadway between one hour before sunset to one hour after sunrise. For pedestrians, I’d even add carrying a lit flashlight on the roadside of your body greatly enhances the ability to be seen on the roadway.

    Road Safety involves government, safety associations and the people using the roadways all working together. Lets work to prevent things like this from happening.

  33. A concerned road user

    Lets use some common sense here for a moment, a white background with a red border surround with a number in it ,eg, 80 km/h, means the maximum allowed limit for speed in that zone.
    A white background with a red border surround and an arrow to the right or left means turning allowed in that direction.
    So hows that bicycle one look now in comparison to these if the rules follow function for the type of sign.
    Also if the same turn arrow sign has a red diagonal through it, whats happening now, well,,,,,,,turning is prohibited.
    The sign as it stands now using a form of standardization, that design isnt prohibiting bicycles, its allowing them entry.

  34. Only I

    Specifically re Bajan21, the issue is not only whether he was drunk, but the mere fact that the Police do not have access to a process to determine cause and specifically to either exonerate the driver from being reckless i.e. drink driving or not.

    That is the issue.

    Secondly, re EV and ‘concerned road user’, the fact is that no matter what one does to protect oneself, the roads here are getting more dangerous by the day.

    Do you know that the same day as the fatal five bicycle accident, there were two others at exactly the same time?

    One between a minibus and a large bus on golf club road, the second another cyclist on hastings, both roads were blocked.

    Then another cyclist was hit in the evening.

    Drivers here are getting very reckless, even myself in a car daily, I am astounded at the bad driving and am regularly checking myself to avoid people on my side of the road.

    And it is not just me, because I check and I am right next to the sidewalk, can see gaps feet wide on their side, they simply veer onto the wrong side at will.

    The driving on roads here is a hazard, full stop.

    It is either incapacity to drive, not caring, drugs or drink, take your pick.

  35. islandgirl

    BAjan21

    If I had just killed an innocent person by accident, you’re correct, I would’nt function like I normally do, in fact I would spend the rest of my life feeling awful, I would’nt be able to sleep, UNLIKE Treimene Sargent, who could’nt wake up. If you had just killed an innocent cyclist, would you have trouble waking up or would you lie awake for months? Of course you could be right, he might not have been drunk, he might have just had a dose of cocane.

    And please tell me, when you go out at night, where do you go to not drink?
    Have you ever been to Harbour Lights? A friend told my father you don’t go in Harbour Lights unless your going to drink.

    One more thing, if the goverment do not take action now, they will be creating a weapon. How?
    Why risk being hanged for murder when I could neatly bump somebody off “by accident”!

  36. Anonymust

    Ok, go riding on the SGH, Sir. Safe journey!

  37. ac

    @Hope Springs Eternal
    I am very much for breathilizer testing .However to suggest that the police check people sobreitywhen
    leaving restaurant /bars is ludicrious.

  38. Hope Springs Eternal

    ac: Perhaps I did not make myself clear. Those leaving clubs/bars in the wee hours, getting into cars and attempting to drive away, not those simply walking out of bars. It may seem ridiculous to you but in most other parts of the world this is done routinely by the police. RBPF just needs to set up spot-checks at the top end of the gap…what’s so complicated about that?

  39. ac

    @H0pe Springs External.
    I think you need to think of the financial cost it would be to the nation.How long do you think people would putup with police stopping them when they come from a bar. Not to mention the number of people visiting those bars would decline which in turn would be a financial loss to the owners eventually causing them to close.
    Like I say I am all for the breathilizer test . However you need to go back to the drawingboard and come up with a better plan.
    I decline your plan as is.

  40. Hope Springs Eternal

    You know what skipper? I don’t give a fig whether you decline my plan or not. Spot-checks are used and work all over the world. It is the reluctance of people such as yourself to face up to a changing world that keeps Barbados such a backward country. I wonder if you have thought of the cost of human lives and misery to the families of those killed or maimed by drunk drivers?

  41. ac

    @Hope Springs Eternal
    Spot checks are not what you said in your previous comment. Spot checks are different from having police standing outside a place of business checking people getting into their cars.
    People rely on laws to solve problems not to create chaos.

  42. Operation Red Nose 2009: 15th Year in Manitoba!
    Join Rudy this holiday season as we celebrate 15 years of making Manitoba roads a little safer. Operation Red Nose kicks off in mid-November and runs to the end of December. There are several ways to get involved – volunteer with your local ORN operation, give them a call after your holiday celebration, book ORN for a corporate party or become a provincial or local sponsor.

    Operation Red Nose is a free, volunteer-run designated driver service during the holidays that caters to motorists who do not feel fit to drive home. Volunteers provide patrons a safe ride home in their own vehicle. Donations are accepted and all proceeds go to support community and sports programs in Manitoba.

  43. Pingback: Barbados Health Minister Donville Inniss: Breathalyzer Law & Equipment not necessary « Barbados Free Press

  44. Pingback: Another Drinking Driver gets off easy because Barbados Police lack Breathalyzers « Barbados Free Press

  45. Pingback: January 11, 2010 court date in Cyclist’s Death – Barbados Police unable to say how much accused had been drinking « Barbados Free Press

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