Starling: Proposals To Deal With Alcohol Abuse

February 18, 2015

Making the installation of ignition interlock devices mandatory for anyone convicted of alcohol-related offenses, introducing roadside sobriety checks, and expanding the public transportation system to run a minimum service throughout the night, are some of the ideas proposed by Jonathan Starling to combat alcohol abuse.

“The Road Safety Summit, originally to be convened in January, has finally begun,” said Mr Starling.

“While the focus of this summit will not be restricted solely to the problem of driving under the influence, I hope that my proposals on alcohol abuse will be of some use in informing the discussions arising from this summit.

“While it is not possible at this moment to say whether alcohol played a role in any of the recent spate of road traffic accidents, it is known that alcohol has played a contributing factor in similar accidents in the past.

“As such, I believe that my proposals here, while being potentially beneficial for public health overall, are also quite relevant to the matters being raised in the Road Safety Summit.

“This document itself is only an excerpt from a ‘mini-platform’ that focuses on drugs in general, of which alcohol is only one of the more prevalent in our society. I hope to release subsequent sections of this larger document over the coming weeks.

“I look forward to the feedback and discussion that these proposals might generate, and I am hopeful that they can play even a small part in addressing alcohol abuse in Bermuda, as well as potentially reducing the rate of road traffic accidents going forward.”

“The document itself provides more details about these policies, including the rationale behind them.

  • Make the installation of ignition interlock devices mandatory for anyone convicted of alcohol-related offenses [such as DUI].
  • Investigate incentives to encourage all drivers to install ignition interlock devices.
  • Reduce the blood alcohol limit to 50mg per 100 litres for drivers over the age of 20.
  • Reduce the blood alcohol limit to 20mg per 100 litres for drivers aged 18-20.
  • Introduce roadside sobriety checks on a regular basis.
  • Expand the public transportation system to run at least a minimum service throughout the night to provide a safe alternative for people to travel home after enjoying responsible alcohol consumption.
  • Restrict the advertising of alcohol products in the media, in window displays and prohibit the sponsoring of sporting or community events by alcohol companies to reduce the normalisation of alcohol which can enable the abuse of alcohol.
  • Prohibit the sale of alcohol at gas-stations.
  • Ensure that all alcohol sold in grocery stores are located in a single defined area physically distant from the store entrance.
  • Introduce minimum pricing per unit of alcohol, as determined by an annual commission – I recommend a price of $2 per unit of alcohol.

The full document follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (34)

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  1. WarwickBoy says:

    Here’s my plan:

    Drastically increase the penalties for DUI:

    1. Minimum fine changed to $5000. For each 25% increment someone is over the limit, ratchet up the fine by $2000. Two times over the limit gets you a $13,000 fine. That’ll discourage many.

    2. Impound the vehicle used in the commission of a DUI offence. Somewhere between a two weeks to a month should do it. If the offender is the vehicle owner, it will further punish them and encourage others to desist from this activity. It was also make vehicle owners think long and hard about who they lend their vehicles to.

    3. Introduce custodial sentences for DUI offences. A week in jail will focus many minds. It doesn’t have to be Westgate but a week at the Prison Farm should do it. Again, ratchet up the incarceration time with the degree to which the offender violates the blood alcohol limit. Jail time will not look good on the records of many people and will lead many, I believe, to do anything to avoid that.

    We have tried publicity campaigns to discourage drunk driving for over three decades now. We have pleaded with folks to stop it. We have displayed wrecked cars on the roadsides to show the effects of these collisions. We have had witness testimonies offered to try and show the impact this action can have on innocent lives. All of these don’t seem to have worked as intended.

    We have tried the carrot. Now it is time for the stick.

    I think this way of dealing with offences can be translated to regular driving offences too. Severely increase the penalties for illegal activity on the roads and, most importantly, increase the expectation among road users that they will be caught when transgressing, and I think we will see the improvement we are all hoping for.

    Human beings react to incentives and recoil from pain. Make the penalties for the activities you wish to diminish painful enough and I fully believe you will see a change.

  2. Joonya says:

    Why dont you just completely prohibit alcohol consumption period, Comrade?
    That would solve all the…. Oh yah thats right its a huge source of Gobmint tax.

    • Family Man says:

      If its banned then we wouldn’t need a commission to study pricing and distribution. If there’s no commission how else are these comrades going to make a living?

  3. Curious says:

    Ah Mr. (Dr?) Starling.
    How do you propose to expand the public transport system when your beloved unions haven’t allowed the bus schedule to be updated in 15 years?

    • Oh Great says:

      More to the point, does anybody really think that the bus drivers in addition to being asked to drive late at night are also going to be willing to take the extra risk of servicing drunk people who outnumber them on the bus?

      • PBanks says:

        That’s something that has to be seriously discussed with the drivers and their respective union. Maybe drivers running the late routes could be accompanied by an officer or other person to serve as conductor/security?

        At least put the discussion on the table. Invite the drivers to provide details on what would work for them. Better than doing nothing at all.

  4. Navin Johnson says:

    And the public transportation system seems to either be on strike or slow down or sick in’s….

  5. alan gordon says:

    I wish the drunk driving discussion would include some honest discourse about what happens to accident rates and fatality rates when cannabis is made lawfully available.

    Time after time, DUI and its consequences are arrested by the availability of cannabis. You Bermudians are so stuck in your morals-n-rules that you’d rather let someone die then back down, even if the rule was demonstrably wrong in the first place.

    Knowing we can save lives, and not acting, is little better than manslaughter.

    Repent, sinners

  6. Jeremy Deacon says:

    Good stuff JS. Keep it up – I do think that the bloggers have had an impact here …..

    • PBanks says:

      Crockwell may have done well to invite said bloggers and other members of the public that have been vocal with suggestions and ideas to said Summit.

  7. Ed Case says:

    Introducing prison sentences is a bit much don’t you think? perhaps for persistent repeat offenders – and I believe that already exists. Besides, I think you’ll find that after being caught once – it cures most individuals and they will never repeat the incidence.

  8. Onion says:

    So your solution is to lower limits? Is there any evidence whatsoever that Bermuda’s road traffic collisions are caused by people between your new limit and the old one?


    Then why are you suggesting this and what function does it have other than to put more people into the criminal justice system?

    • PBanks says:

      I suspect it’s more of a move to really push a no-tolerance policy with regards to intoxicated driving.

      • Herb says:

        sad thing about the dui is they cause the least amount of accidents according to Police Stats. Why not target the drivers who are the worst offenders.

        • Joseph Froncioni says:

          Simply a matter of bad stats. In the vast majority of cases, the 2 main causes of crashes, speed and alcohol, are not recorded at the scene of a crash. No driver involved in a crash will volunteer that they were traveling at 70kph and we don’t do roadside breath tests. To make matters worse, police seldom apply the 1997 Road Traffic Ammendment Act which allows them to require a sample of blood or urine from a crash victim in emergency whom they suspect of having been driving under the influence.

          So, that’s why our accident stats are not woth the paper they are written on.

  9. except says:

    Thanks Jonathan, but your suggestions are somewhat draconian and lack creativity. Go back to the drawing board with ideas that don’t include choking the public, and ones that don’t require increased police presence.

    • PBanks says:

      Frankly, the only thing that currently will get people to be less reckless on the road is having police officers out there and visible, so anything else is going to be relatively worthless.

    • hmmm says:

      “ignition interlock devices”. You could just get someone who hasn’t been drinking to breathe in the tube or breathe into a large rubber turkey baster…seal it and pump it into the device later.

      they do retests, but they don’t stop the car once moving.

      “Restrict the advertising of alcohol products in the media”
      So you go to all the US and other networks we recieve and stop them how?

  10. Ed Case says:

    Increasing the fine, decreasing the limit, impounding the car. None of this will work if the police do not enforce the law. So that’s all that has to be done – just enforce the law. No other changes needed.

    Also, If Bermuda had a reasonable and efficient public transportation model, then people might actually use it instead of driving. Right now there are buses out of order, drivers pulling sickies, ferries cut right back. And then there is the joke of a taxi service.

    We have possibly the worst taxi service in the world. Lets admit it – they are permanently pathetic.

  11. this is without a doubt says:

    This will be the first time I’ve ever said this but I totally disagree with everything in your summary to the point that I couldn’t read the document. these aren’t the answer and far from it for hundreds of reasons.

    Why place so many restrictions on people? Are Bermudians that stupid that serious education in the consequences of drink driving cannot work? Look at the schools everyday students should be reminded why we don’t drink and drive in our society as to create an educated society who don’t drink and drive making your regulations obsolete.

    Education is the answer period. Not just on drunk driving but on everything else as well. Intelligent people don’t drive after they have reached their limit.

    • PBanks says:

      They’ve tried the education angle. People have been going to the schools all the time. But it’s had little effect, and of course it doesn’t impact at all any adult who drives recklessly. CADA’s been putting up billboards nonstop the past couple of years, nobody pays them any serious attention.

      A multi-pronged strategy is the only thing that will have a chance at working. Maybe some of the suggestions in the article have merit (such as bolstering public transportation options), maybe some are simply not feasible or can be proved as ineffective (such as restricting advertising).

      • hmmm says:

        Vehicle impound…no excuses no arguments you lose your vehicle. There are other transport means to get to work and to get around in Bermuda, so no excuses.

        That would cut it right down. Equally as draconian, but actually effective.

        I’m not supporting that, but just saying.

  12. Terry says:

    Another brain dead composition by Comrade Starling.

    The laws are on the books.

    Bermudians drink more than any other country in the world except for Russia which the Comrade has a great relationship and knowledge.

    Um having a rum and heading off to bar in Somerset. Um driving. Leaving St. George nah.

    Just took an empty bus from dee deepoe.

    Juzz flaig mee dahn.


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

    Bermudians will walk through the stinging nettles everyday and cry about being stung, but won’t eliminate the cause…thus eliminating the problem…i really am astounded by the amount of people that are just…————————————.

  14. big lad says:

    Increasing the fine and the penalty for DUI does not seem to have deterred people from doing this.
    It’s unfortunate, because it means that drastic measures need to be taken.

    A zero tolerance policy is a much better idea than a proposal of this age is allowed this etc. Plain and simple, if you want to drink, no driving. That is quite simple to understand for all.

    Do we need to increase fines again? Certainly recently there have been cases where people have been caught for a second time or more for this offence. That certainly needs sorting out.

    Community service tacked on for violators could be something worth looking at as well. Certainly at a minimum, it would mean offenders having to give back to our community.

  15. hmmm says:

    I just read that caffine and sugar are pooled with weed by JS.

    WTF ????????????

    • PBanks says:

      The argument can be made for caffeine, but sugar, I strongly object to. It’s impossible to legislate sugar in the context of a mind-altering substance :)

  16. wow says:

    harasment in the near future

  17. Kangoocar says:

    More socialistic nonsense from the comrade!!! if you had it your way, with these silly recommedations, we can all say good bye to the Restuarants and night life in BDA!!! I am sure the comrade will not have a problem with helping financially all those that become unemployed because of his silly nonsense????

  18. Expat 007 says:

    Damn prudish country. Educate people on alcohol consumption, the good and the bad. Both public education and the parents should be teachers to young folk. Stop trying to limit people, under the guise of wanting to protect people from themselves.

  19. frank says:

    Rum should not be sold in the supermarket

  20. MAKE MY DAY says:

    I knew someone with an interlock device fitted on his truck in the states – easy to by-pass as he had his sister blow into the tube (mouthpiece) that is supposed to detect alcohol – and she was naturally sober!!

  21. Bermy greens says:

    @frank hence why it’s called a (Super market ) they sell everything . Get a life This all boils down to the person drinking and driving . Look I go out to functions and party’s and bars I know my limit so why should I be peanalized for other peoples stupidity ! When caught hefty fines should take place . Yea maybe vehicles should be impounded if not already ridden off. Just burn the person take them off the road for 2 years stick them with 3 k fine do something . But stop all this ray ray about banning alcohol its not gonna happen cause bermudians love to drink !