September 20, 2020

Is Cayman Islands’ high DUI limit the cause of the fatalities and injuries on our roads?

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Cayman Islands Justice Williams last Thursday (31 May) in a judgment he handed down to a death by dangerous driving case questioned why we have one of the highest legal alcohol limits in the world at 100mls?

The judge pointed out that the UK has a legal limit of 80mls of blood whilst many European countries have 50mls. He thought our level needed reviewing.

Not unsurprisingly the RCIPS has welcomed his remarks.

But would lowering the DUI limit make roads any safer? Are there any statistics available that prove the twelve or more fatalities on Cayman’s roads over the last five years were caused by any of the drivers who had exactly or between 50 and 100mls of blood?

The answer is ‘no’.  All the road deaths caused by DUI were above 100mls and more than half significantly above 100mls.

There is absolutely no doubt that Cayman has a drink driving epidemic but lowering the DUI limit is not going to solve the problem at all.

The Internet is full of ideas to prevent DUI’s and all have been tried in the USA and UK but the problem is increasing. Here are some of them:

* Pass a national law that prohibits any open alcoholic drinks in public places.

* Make sure repeat drunk driving offenders are wearing electronic devices such as ankle bracelets at all times. Furthermore, all repeat offenders should have to install ignition interlock instruments (IIDs) in their vehicles

* Attach a special marking to the license plates of repeat offenders. However, if someone else has to drive the repeat offender’s vehicle, they could be mistaken for being a drunk driver.

* Since the high percentage of drunk drivers are young, restrict driving for young drivers including not allowing them to drive after a certain time.

* Increase DUI awareness and education for students in elementary and high schools. Creating a sense of responsibility in young adults and children is also key in further reducing drunken driving incidences in the future.

* Increase the number of public service announcements in the newspapers and on television.

* Designated drivers

All of these ideas used together consistently would probably be best to reduce the number of DUI accidents. It’s just a matter of the government or law enforcement implementing them being consistent with these initiatives in order for them to be effective while maintaining a level of lawfulness for all citizens.

The most successful, according to US statistics and one that has been tried here with varying degrees of success, is “designated drivers”.

A designated driver is simply a person who agrees to abstain from alcohol and be responsible for driving others home. The others are free to drink or not as they choose.

Some friends of mine have just got back from Miami and at a number of establishments where alcohol is served if you are a designated driver in the group of four or more you drink as many sodas as you like for one initial charge of $2.

Similar schemes are in place but nearly always only on New Years Eve.

That doesn’t, of course, solve the man drinking alone but most people drink in groups

In a survey executed by Prof David J Hanson, Ph.D. on the www2.Potsdam.edu site he states:

“Designated drivers have probably saved nearly 50,000 lives and spared many more thousands of people from suffering injury from drunk driving. Over nine out of 10 Americans who attend social events where alcohol is served would like to see designated drivers used. And the proportion of people using or being a designated driver has increased dramatically over time. Each year over 73,000,000 Americans either serve as a designated driver or are driven home by one.”

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