Transport Minister: Anti-Drunk Driving Initiatives

March 1, 2013 | 44 Comments

The Ministry will seek Cabinet’s approval to lower the limit for blood-alcohol levels from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood down to 40 milligrams, Transport & Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said today [Mar 1].

Speaking in the House of Assembly, Minister Crockwell also mentioned Roadside Sobriety Testing saying, “We need a policy that allows the Police to take samples of breath right at the roadside and have that information be able to be used as evidence.”

“At present, the sample of breath taken on the roadside is indicative of the presence of alcohol, but the only admissible evidence of alcohol in the system is taken at the Police Station.

“By that time, the alcohol may have dissipated and the driver is now ‘legal’ although at the scene, at the time of arrest, they would have been impaired. So I will be asking Cabinet to approve amending the Law to permit evidential Roadside Sobriety Testing.”

Minister Crockwell continued, “These two efforts – a reduction in the allowable limit, and the ability to make roadside testing admissible in Court should go some way to both deterring offenders, and removing drivers under the influence from our roads.”

“We live on an island where drinking is a major part of our social activities. I do not want people to curtail their leisure activities; what I am asking though, is that we care a little bit more; that we take our time a little bit more; and that we drive in a way that ensures we can continue to enjoy life to the fullest.”

Minister Crockwell’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, the Bermuda Police Service recently announced the institution of its Selective Traffic Enforcement Programme or ‘STEP’ Programme as it is known; and as the Minister responsible for Transport, I acknowledge, support and applaud their efforts in ensuring the roads are safer for all users.

From the Transport Control Department, our Road Safety Officer, who has seen many different attempts at calming the roads by successive Administrations, was present with the Police, and he obviously has my support.

Mr. Speaker, both as a Minister and as a Bermudian, I have seen far too many families mourn loved ones who will not celebrate anymore Birthdays, Easters, Cup Matches, or Christmases. I wish that I could guarantee that we will not have any more road fatalities.

But Mr. Speaker, this Government, and in fact any representative of Government is not elected to hope and wish, but to listen and act; this Government has listened and now we need to act.

As the Minister responsible for Transport, it is within my remit to bring initiatives to Cabinet that address our roads; the Police and the Ministry of National Security have their role, but there are other things that can also be done to ensure that road users understand their licence is a privilege and not a right, and to make our roads safer.

Accordingly, I have had my Technical Officers review legislation and policies and we have uncovered certain initiatives that we believe can assist with the efforts to bring safety to our roads.

Firstly, the Ministry will seek Cabinet’s approval to set a lower limit for blood-alcohol levels. Currently, the permissible limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, and it is my considered opinion that it should be halved to 40 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Mr. Speaker, I choose not to give an estimation of how many drinks one can have, because quite frankly, all driving Bermudians and Residents, need to get to the point that when they plan to go out, knowing that they will consume alcoholic drinks, they will leave their car or bike at home. It really is that simple.

When we factor how much money we may spend on a night’s entertainment, we need to add $25 for taxi fare, so that we can enjoy a full night’s fun without having to, either take a dangerous and potentially fatal chance.

Secondly Mr. Speaker, if people do wish to play Russian Roulette with their own and other road users’ lives, then we need to be able to detect alcohol when someone is driving and is impaired.

At present, if the police happen upon an accident and there are no telltale signs of drinking, the Police may conclude that alcohol did not play any part in the accident.

If on the other hand the Police happen to be driving behind a driver who is swerving, there is enough observation to warrant pulling the driver over and applying a breath test for alcohol even if there has not been an accident. But even when the driver is arrested, the sample taken at the scene is not admissible in Court.

Mr. Speaker, we need a policy that allows the Police to take samples of breath right at the roadside and have that information be able to be used as Evidence. At present, the sample of breath taken on the roadside is indicative of the presence of alcohol, but the only admissible evidence of alcohol in the system is taken at the Police Station.

By that time, the alcohol may have dissipated and the driver is now ‘legal’ although at the scene, at the time of arrest, they would have been impaired. So I will be asking Cabinet to approve amending the Law to permit evidential Roadside Sobriety Testing.

These two efforts – a reduction in the allowable limit, and the ability to make roadside testing admissible in Court should go some way to both deterring offenders, and removing drivers under the influence from our roads.

Thirdly, Mr. Speaker, in 2001, the then Government tabled, and the House debated and passed an amendment to the Road Traffic Act 1947 which would have permitted speed cameras to be utilised on our roads.

The legislation was passed, the Governor’s assent was received, but the Act was never made operational. I have been advised that the reason for not implementing the devices throughout Bermuda was that it was financially prohibitive.

In 2013, on one hand Bermuda is in the grip of a recession and spending the People’s money is something that the Government considers extremely carefully. On the other hand, it has been more than a decade since this technology was analysed and most costs of technology have dropped considerably in the intervening years; speed cameras and the requisite technology are not different.

Accordingly, I have asked my Technical Officers to consider and assess the financial and logistic feasibility of implementing speed cameras on our roads. At first it may be a Pilot Programme, but it is my intention to see a network of speed cameras across Bermuda to slow down drivers and make them aware of their speed.

The benefit of speed cameras is manifold and aside from the reduction in manpower needs, the fact that they can operate day or night, and the fact that I am certain once operational they will act as a major deterrent to speeding, I am glad that we may have the option of using technology to produce safer and more orderly roads.

Mr. Speaker, we live on an island where drinking is a major part of our social activities. I do not want people to curtail their leisure activities; what I am asking though, is that we care a little bit more; that we take our time a little bit more; and that we drive in a way that ensures we can continue to enjoy life to the fullest.

Mr. Speaker, there are two quotes that I would like to end with that succinctly deal with two aspects of bad driving. The first phrase was displayed on a sign outside of a church in the US.

It simply stated: “Honk, if you love Jesus…text if you want to meet him”. The second one is: “The driver is safer when the roads are dry…the roads are safer when the driver is dry.”

Thank You Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (44)

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  1. What??? says:

    Xenophobia, terms limit--now cocktails--

    Oh my!!!

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    • Just us says:

      There's a new circus in town... All you cough syrup drinkers beware. I guess you drinkers will now have to ask for a plastic cup and take your drinks home with you...LMAO.
      Hit um up OBA, get that budget in order.
      Whats next? Ahhh! I know... People who smoke while driving. Fines up to a $1,000.00...SMH And $2,000.00 For lighting up while moving in the vehicle.
      VOTE OBA... (Over Board Adjustments)

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      • 0.4? says:

        What the he** is changing from 80 to 40 going to solve? Anyone driving at over 80 mg is most certainly going to drive over 40 mg.

        Why not implement a warning system...anyone driving with alcohol in their system gets a fine and car taken away for the night.

        Increase in insurance is more scary than a year off the road to many...

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        • Delaey W Robinson says:

          It's not the ones who are caught, its the ones who get away and knock somebody over we have to worry about.

          Habitual DUIs need an alcohol-analyser attached to the ignition of their car so that it cannot be started without a blow and will not start if the limit is exceeded.

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  2. v!nce says:

    I applaud this action, because obviously it is a problem in Bermuda, but I don't personally feel that these actions will act as a deterrent to the behaviour.
    Find a punishment that suits the crime.

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    • David Cameron says:

      One thing will stop this behaviour...a greater fear of getting caught. That means random road blocks, friday, saturday night - Johnny Barnes, Front St, North Shore, Middle Rd. It will soon stop.

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  3. me says:

    I think rather than lowering it, we need more cops out at night. There should be a cop on east broadway from 11pm-5am every Friday & Saturday night.

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  4. Der says:

    Oba full of sh@t .....

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  5. Orbit says:

    That means um only gonna be able to have one beer?!

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  6. ridiculous says:

    That is absolutely ridiculous. That level of alcohol is 2 drinks for anyone under 250lbs. Instead of lowering the blood alcohol level considered for impaired driving, why don't we see more police on East Broadway pulling motorists over? I applaud road side sobriety tests, they are quick and effective, and will have a more enforced effect than just simply lowering the blood alcohol percentage.

    Looks like people are not going to be coming out to Friday Happy Hours anymore!

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  7. Educate me plz says:

    Can someone explain to me what this '40 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood' is equivalent to as it pertains to how many drinks one can consume without being over the limit. I am sure it is dependant on height and weight of a person. I just need an example please, I can do the math.

    Does this mean we can't go out to eat and share a bottle of wine with a meal or say have two glasses of wine or two drinks when out to eat then drive or ride home? I don't feel drunk or incapable of operating a vehicle after one or two drinks, but mind you I don't drink hard liquor,and I am of average height and weight for a female (5'9"/170). Education is the key! I want to know

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    • Family Man says:

      If you share a bottle of wine you WILL be over the new limit. One drink can now put you over the new limit.

      Its not the guy who has one or two glasses over dinner that they need to be concentrating on. It's the guy who has four or five at happy hour! And they need to concentrate on detection. Random breathalyser stops.

      Another half assed reactionary response with absolutely no statistics to back up their proposals. How many suspected DUI cases blew between 40 and 80? How many DUI cases were 80 - 100 and how many were >100. I'd bet >90% of the suspected DUI stops were tested to be well over 100. These are the ones we need to identify and target.

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      • monet says:

        How about you stop justifying bad driving habbits and drive with NO alcohol in your system? It's not that hard...

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        • Family Man says:

          I dont drive if I've had anything at all to drink but that's not the point. As a poster below noted, lowering the speed limit from 35kph to 20kph will not make the roads safer. Efforts to enforce the current limits and especially stop the egregious speeders doing 70-80kph will have a much more beneficial effect. Likewise efforts to stop the guy who has >100ml of alcohol per dl in his blood is going to have a greater effect than trying to take the guy who has 45ml of alcohol in his blood off the road. But if you think that really helps, without any research to support it, why don't they make the limit 0.05?

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    • Delaey W Robinson says:

      I applaud your question. It is time body weight/amount consumed tables were available in restaurants and bars to give us a clue at least.

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  8. Y-Gurl says:

    Good initiative, but unfortunately we now need to rely on a less than great police service to actually catch someone BEFORE they are sitting in an upside down car or laying next to a mangled bike and the likelihood of then catching anyone is so slim that I personally don't see this initiative making much difference, maybe if the sobriety check points ever get going that will help, after all they don't have to actually catch anyone the violators will be driving to them,

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  9. me says:

    You can do all you want but it's the MIND SET. You have to change the way people think. And that don't happen over night... Until than do all you want, people will continue to drink and drive under the influence. Socially accepted

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  10. Tom says:

    It would seem to me that the vast majority of drinking related deaths would be from levels far greater than 80mil/100. This will do nothing to stop deaths from excessive drinking and driving at 80kph. Its like making the speed limit 15 miles and hour it won't stop the crazy speeding that kills- it will just inconvenience individuals

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  11. dun says:

    this is the stupidest s--t ive seen this government do. its just gonna inconvenience law abiding citizens.

    THIS WILL NOT STOP PEOPLE FROM DRINKING A DRIVING. PEOPLE ARE STILL GOING TO DRINK AND DRIVE.

    Mr cockwell, you sir, are an idiot. lets be realistic and really think about it..

    a man that is 6 feet tall 170lbs is gonna have two beers, feel nothing, then get pulled over and arrested for drunk driving.

    what the f---?

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  12. The Kid says:

    Most civilised countries have lowered the level to .05 and they also have RBT (random breath test) units on the roads. If you are over the limit, bang you are off the road for a year

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    • Malcolm Bishop says:

      Most civilized countries also have the protection of sexual orientation as a basic human right. This is Bermuda dude. NOT a civilized country.

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  13. Anon Ymous says:

    As mentioned before, the laws and limits matter not if nobody is out enforcing them stringently and consitently - no better deterrent than the a good chance of being caught.

    The other option is to simply switch from your current mode of transport to driving a ferry and join the union.

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  14. Police statistics for 2012..........1800 + accidents on our roads in 2012.......86 accidents caused by drunk driving.......hmmmmm.....something wrong here, punish the drunk drivers who cause the least amount of accidents and let the others off with a light fine and no time off the road......the campaign against drunk driving is already producing good results as per the statistics from BPS.....we need just as much effort put into stopping all the other causes of our accidents such as speeding, texting etc.....

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    • Delaey W Robinson says:

      What about looking at stats for bodily harm and fatalities caused by sober vs drunk drivers

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  15. ... says:

    iTS NOT THE PEOPLE BLOWING 0.08 AND BELOW THAT ARE DECKIN OUT...ITS THE 0.08 AND ABOVE.

    HAVE MORE RANDOM CHECKS...THATS ALL YOU NEED TO DO.

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  16. Jason Correia says:

    I think the minister has lost sight of the issue.

    People who go out and have two glasses of wine with dinner or two beers after work and fall within the limit of .08 are not the individuals causing the accidents on Bermuda's roads. The people who carry on drinking after 2, 3, 4, etc and attempt to ride/drive home without fear of getting caught because of the lacking police presence on Bermuda's roads are to be blamed.

    I understand the police force has suffered funding and man-power shortfalls in recent years, however; if police started random stops & searches on various evenings at random times, people will soon learn they cannot always get away with drinking and driving and deter them from doing so.

    Furthermore, lowing the blood alcohol limit will deter people from going out in the evenings and spending their money within the economy because of fear they will be punished if they have a drink. This is not the path Bermuda needs to take in order to revitalize a failing restaurant industry and struggling economy. People should not be discouraged from spending their money.

    Actively enforcing the law will over time decrease negligent driving behaviour, increase government revenue in the short - medium term via traffic fines and finally, give the perception of increased police present and deter people from potentially committing other crimes within the community.

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  17. Hugh O'Donnell says:

    This is madness. We need less of this nanny state stuff - not more. Can anyone tell me of any kind of serious accident involving an accident someone between .8 and .4???

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  18. jredmond says:

    They might as well just make it zero tolerance. Whats the point of .04? One beer is going to put many people over this limit. A lunchtime beverage with clients is going to make many people criminals. The police should release statistics on breathalyzer numbers that people suspected of DUI blew. I bet very few are under .04. The drunk driving problem isn't a numbers problem, changing the limit isn't going to deter those that get full hot and still drive. Enforcing the existing laws more effectively seems like a far wiser approach. Don't pussyfoot around with .04, just make it zero tolerance, .04 is just making the waters more murky.

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  19. letmypeoplego says:

    y-Gurl, your an idiot!!

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  20. Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

    ALERT!!!...problem solved ...You are now required to take test before entering any Bar...if found to be over the NOW legal limit then you will not be served ALCOHOL. There Cannot be any other solution, unless YOU aren't looking for SOLUTIONS.

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  21. Kiskadee says:

    Excessive speed, texting and talking on a cell phone cause more accidents than having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner. The police need to be at the Hamilton Princess , Mariners club or outside Flanagans after Happy Hour especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

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    • Just us says:

      @ Kiskadee: I guess you don't know nothing about the Police Club, Prison Officers, BPSU? You must of been born yesterday...

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      • Kiskadee says:

        I guess I was born yesterday. I don't know anything about the Police club , Prison Officers or BPSU but I expect the police need to be outside there too

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  22. conceened citizen says:

    i think the police should employ private citizens with proper training on how to use the equipment to run these checks. it would bring work to Bermudians and help solve the problem of manpower to get the job done.

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  23. M.P. MOUNTBATTEN JP says:

    A DUI conviction could potentially put one on the US "stoplist" . Nice one Crockwell . Personally , I would support Zero , and I mean Zero tolerance .

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  24. Kiskadee says:

    I guess I was born yesterday. I don't know anything about the Police club , Prison Officers or BPSU but I expect the police need to be outside there too

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  25. Dante says:

    Drinking too much isn't the problem, it's driving drunk? Really?

    And then you want to tell kids drugs are bad, you seperate alcohol from drugs, which is misleading.

    Way to lead by example!

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  26. DreamCatcher says:

    Build some more holding cells or a HUGE drunk tank. Please provide entertainment as the semi-sober people won't be passed out or sleeping.

    This makes no sense whatsoever.

    How about enforcing the road rules with more stop checks? Road side testing. If one knew police were more vigilant - behavior would be curbed correspondingly.

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  27. Tank Rain says:

    Here is the problem, the people at .80 aren't the ones crashing at 4 AM. If it is dropped to .40 anyone who has a glass of wine with dinner or God forbid a beer after work runs the risk of an infraction.

    So you harm or potential ruin the life of the normal and law abiding citizen and do nothing to deter the binge drinker any way.

    I will never pop in at Happy Hour again, the risk is too high, this could ultimately lead to a further loss of business for local restaurants as well.

    Poorly thought out and doesn't come close to addressing the problem, I thought we had moved beyond that, but guess not.

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  28. Some observations says:

    whilst i applaud the efforts to reduce the number of drink drivers out on the roads i dont see how this is an answer - its the REALLY drunk people that are the menace and they feel they can drive without much risk of getting caught - if the Govt if serious about this then start random checks under the EXISTING legislation - but also make provision for people to get home at night without having to hope and pray for a taxi to show up - have the ferries and the buses run at hours that people can use them to get home after a night on the town

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