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Drop that drink! - Cops on watch for drunk drivers leaving Christmas, New Year parties

Published:Monday | December 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

With the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation granting approval for 118 entertainment events between Christmas and New Year's Eve, the Police Traffic Division has drafted a plan to target drunk drivers leaving some of the more popular shows.

The move comes as part of an attempt by the police and other stakeholders to consolidate the huge reduction in road fatalities this year and ensure that Jamaica records under 300 road deaths for the first time in more than 13 years.

Statistics provided by the Road Safety Unit in the transport ministry show that up to yesterday, 247 persons have been killed on the nation's roadways this year. This is 48 fewer than the 295 fatalities recorded over the corresponding period last year.

Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, who heads the Police Traffic Division, said as part of the plan, special teams of police personnel will be stationed outside entertainment venues to conduct random breathalyser tests of patrons as they leave.

Lewis said the teams will pay special attention to the popular Boxing Day concert, Sting, which is held in Portmore, St Catherine, and the so-called entertainment strip in New Kingston.

"The entire New Kingston, that strip where you have several places of entertainment, is going to be monitored," Lewis told The Gleaner yesterday.

"When Sting is over, we are going to have sufficient personnel there and persons are going to be checked at random. Five, six, seven, eight and 10 cars are going to be stopped one behind the other," he disclosed.

Added Lewis: "We have our way of knowing when a person has acquired more than the normal amount of liquor."

The legal limit for Jamaica is 35 milligrams of alcohol to 100 milli-litres of breath and drivers who fail a breathalyser test can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Under the Road Traffic Act, any person found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol can lose their driver's licence for six months while a second conviction carries a one-year suspension.

Lewis said motorists who refuse to take a breathalyser test can be arrested and charged for failing to submit to the test.

In addition, the head of the traffic division said police personnel would be out with radar monitoring drivers who are engaged in speeding.

Up to yesterday afternoon, there had been 11 road fatalities so far this month.

The latest casualties came yesterday when two men were killed in separate incidents in Kingston and St Andrew.

They have been identified as Reynaldo Pike, 25, a truck driver of Cockburn Gardens, and 55-year-old Sylvester Staple of Marcus Garvey Drive, both in Kingston.