Call for breath test
The National Committee for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCPADD) has been joined in its appeal for breathalyzer testing legislation here by strategic advocates who are disappointed that Barbados is behind in this critical area of progress.
Consultant in the Accident & Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Chaynie Williams, retired inspector of the Royal Barbados Police Force, Keith Miller, and attorney-at-law and former Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris, recently supported the call based on their experience in dealing with cases of drunk driving.
In her presentation to a NCPADD symposium at the Conference Room of the General Insurance Association of Barbados, Dr Williams said one in three fatalities from motor vehicular accidents showed alcohol was involved.
She contended that in the absence of the breathalyzer test the hospital “wastes resources” in running certain diagnostic tests, whereas if there was information from the accident scene indicating that drunkenness was a contributing factor, such information could have assisted medical personnel in making an assessment of the victims’ condition.
The Accident & Emergency Consultant said every month her department saw about 150 patients from motor vehicular accidents, the majority of whom sought medical attention on weekends, late at night and “during the seasonal festive times when people tend to drink more”.
“I do not understand why it is taking so long to introduce breathalyzer testing as a possible deterrent to drunk driving,” the doctor said.
NCPADD’s president Pastor Victor Roach rapped successive governments for dragging their feet on the issue, saying the legislation had been promised more than eight years ago. He called on Minister of Public Works John Boyce “to tell us where we are with testing”.
Retired inspector Keith Miller, who is now an accident prevention specialist and driving educator, told the participants breathalyzer testing was being considered as far back as the 1980s when police officers were sent to England for training in the procedure. He contended it should have been part of the existing Road Traffic Act drafted in the 1980s.
Marshall-Harris said she was concerned that police officers could not present scientific evidence to confirm suspicions of drunk driving in cases where there were fatalities because they did not have the facility of the breathalyzer test. (GC)