Stiffer penalties, measures to curb alcohol-related road accidents

Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill 2022 tabled

Government has taken an important legislative step to minimise alcohol-related road accidents and fatalities through the tabling of the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill 2022.

On Monday, the Bill was introduced into the National Assembly where it was read for the first time.

It expands on the definition of drunken person. The bill requires liquor store owners to exercise better judgement when selling alcohol to persons who may manifest behaviours commonly associated with liquor intoxication.

Once debated and passed into law, the amended Act will require liquor stores to discourage drinking and driving, by refraining from selling alcohol to drunken persons who are likely to drive after leaving the business place.

The sale of alcohol to a designated driver will also be prohibited.

Additionally, liquor store owners will be required to report to the police any person who is intoxicated and attempts to drive or is in charge of a vehicle.

The Bill proposes increased fines for breaching its provisions, ranging from $100,000 on the first offence to $200,000 for the second offence.

Currently, the law stipulates a $4,000 fine for the first offence, and $10,000 for the second offence.

In a bid to protect minors from consuming alcohol, the Bill requires liquor stores to verify the age of patrons prior to their entry into the establishment.

Harsher penalties are also proposed for any holder of a liquor license who employs a minor to supply, sell or assist in the sale of alcohol.

First time offenders will pay $500,000 and $600,000 to $1 million for subsequent offences.

Back in March, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali first touted stricter regulations to curb drinking and driving while addressing the Annual Police Officers’ Conference.

President Ali had stated that he regularly engages families of persons who would have lost their lives due to drunk driving.

The Head of State had called for the issue to be taken seriously.

In 2021, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) recorded a 32 per cent reduction in road fatalities.

This year, the GPF recorded a 9.5 per cent reduction in road fatalities from January 1 to March 8, when compared to the same period in 2021.