President Ali touts tougher penalties for drunk driving

─ hints at bar owners, party hosts being held accountable

Government will be examining the implementation of a burden-sharing system to curb drinking and driving.

The system will place some amount of responsibility on a business establishment or individual who allows an individual to operate a vehicle, while under the influence of alcohol.

The idea was put forward by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, as he addressed the Annual Police Officers’ Conference on Thursday.

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali

The President said such a system exists in Canada. Some amount of responsibility is placed on a bartender who serves someone alcohol and allows that person to enter the driver’s seat of a vehicle.

“So, I want you to look at this model and how we can have a system of burden-sharing because more than 70 per cent of the accidents are caused by persons that are under the influence, and we have to expand our net in stopping this at the bud.

“There is no sense we allow them to drive, you make the accident and yes, the law is strong, you can lose your licence and go to jail, but the persons are already dead. So how do we build a system that allows for burden sharing where it must become a part of the culture of our country,” he said.

Dr. Ali said the mechanism in Canada is very detailed. He explained if there is a house party, the homeowner would have to make an announcement, laying out certain rules. If the homeowner allows someone under the influence to leave the house in a drunken state, the homeowner would bear some of the responsibility should anything happen to the individual.

“That is how we will rapidly change the culture of drinking and driving in the country, not only by the large enforcement of the law. So, we have to examine this, there are already best practices globally,” President Ali stated.

He noted that the issue of drinking must be taken seriously. The President said he regularly engages persons who have lost loved ones due to persons driving under the influence. He said those conversations turn out to be some of the most painful he has had. In 2021, the Guyana Police Force recorded a reduction in fatal accidents by 32 percent. This trend has continued in 2022 with the force recording a 9.5 percent reduction in road fatalities from January 1 to March 8, when compared to the same period in 2021. There have been 19 fatalities from 15 accidents this year, compared to 21 fatalities from 20 accidents in 2021.

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