Monday 6 July, 2020

Driving while high? Ministry warns of fines, jail time

Driving while under the influence of alcohol and any drugs carries a penalty of heavy fines and can even land you in jail.

The warning comes from the Works and Transport Ministry just days before the Cannabis Control Bill is expected to be proclaimed, which would allow citizens to carry small quantities of marijuana without being penalised.

The Ministry reminded citizens of the penalties for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs as listed in accordance with the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act ahead of the Christmas season:

70.  (1) Any person who, when driving or attempting to drive or when in charge of a motor vehicle on a road, is under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle, is liable on first conviction to a fine of twelve thousand dollars and to imprisonment for three years and on any subsequent conviction to a fine of twenty-two thousand, five hundred dollars and to imprisonment for five years. 

(2) A person convicted of— 

(a) two consecutive offences under this section shall, unless the Court for special reasons thinks fit to order otherwise and without prejudice to the power of the Court to order a longer period of disqualification, be disqualified for a period of three years from the date of the conviction from holding or obtaining a driving permit; and 

(b) a third conviction for a like offence, shall be permanently disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving permit; 

(3) Any constable may arrest without a warrant any person committing an offence under this section. 

(4) The Minister may, by Order, approve the device to be used for the detection of drugs pursuant to subsection (1).

 70A. (1) No person shall drive or attempt to drive, or be in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place if he has consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the proportion thereof in his breath or blood exceeds the prescribed limit.

The warning coincided with an announcement by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on Friday regarding a policy for the introduction of drugalizer devices which would address the potential issue that may arise regarding drug-impaired driving in Trinidad and Tobago.

Al-Rawi said his first order of business in 2020 when Parliament reconvenes, is to debate the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act.

If the government has its way, the Act will include ‘drugalizers’ which can detect the presence of marijuana or other drugs in a driver’s system, much like a breathalyser.

The amendments will also include the driver’s permit point demerit system. 

He says in the interim, police officers will be advised on how they can use other, more traditional means to detect a driver’s sobriety.

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