The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have arrested 17 people for drink driving since launching their Christmas safety campaign two weeks ago.
Among those arrested was a 31-year-old man involved in a fatal road crash on Esterley Tibbetts Highway on 30 November and another who crashed his truck into a tree as he approached a police road check in Breakers shortly after 12.30am Monday, 12 December.
In Monday’s incident, the man’s truck cut the tree in half and then dragged the debris onto the road, blocking it to other traffic, according to police.
Police said the driver, in his truck, left the scene of the crash and drove at speed through the police road check. Officers followed him and arrested him a short distance away on suspicion of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and dangerous driving. The officers also cleared the tree from the road.
Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the officer in charge of Operation Christmas Cracker, said the fact people continue to ignore police warnings demonstrates that drink driving is endemic on the Islands and many do not consider it breaking the law.
“Unfortunately, so many people seem to drink and drive so often that they do not actually believe that they are doing anything wrong – it’s a way of life for them,” she said. “But every time they have a drink, then get behind the wheel of a car, they are gambling with their own lives and the lives of other road users. I don’t know how many times we have to say that, and in how many different ways, before the message finally starts to get through.”
Chief Inspector Howell said one life had already been lost on the roads since the start of the police’s Christmas crackdown and “we do not want to lose any more”.
Richard Martin, 52, was killed in a car crash in the early hours of Wednesday, 30 November. Patrick Raymond Brooks-Dixon has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving in connection with the crash and is on court bail. He was also arrested on suspicion of DUI and officers investigating the crash are awaiting results of blood tests.
The results of those tests will determine if any further charges follow, police said.
“If nothing we say encourages drivers to act responsibly, then I would ask them to think about what kind of Christmas Richard Martin’s family will have this year and every year for the rest of their lives,” Chief Inspector Howell said.
She said, “Christmas is a time for fun and celebration. The RCIPS does not want to dampen anyone’s Christmas spirit – but everyone needs to accept that they have a part to play in being responsible. Our clear position is that if you have just one drink, your driving will be impaired and you should not drive.
“If you are planning a night out, designate a driver or get a taxi, but make sure that the designated driver commits to drinking soft drinks and will get you home safely at the end of the night,” she said.
“After a night of drinking, don’t assume you will be fit to drive the next morning. Alcohol stays in your system for some considerable time, so don’t assume a shower and strong black coffee will sober you up enough to drive safely.”