DUI threshold review suggested

The legal limit in Cayman at .100 is higher than in 75 other countries

accident lg

In sentencing Patrick Brooks-Dixon to three years imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving, Justice Richard Williams highlighted factors that made the driving dangerous and one of them was a alcohol-in-blood reading that was more than the legal limit.  

The Traffic Law sets the legal limit in Cayman as 100 milligrams of alcohol in 100 
millilitres of blood, expressed as .100. Brook-Dixon’s 
reading was .173. 

The judge noted that the local limit is “significantly higher” than England and Wales, where it is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, expressed as .08. He added that Cayman’s limit was “considerably higher” than the majority of European countries, where it is 50 milligrams, or .05. 

“I must sentence having regard to the legal limit in Cayman,” he said. “However, I mention the international levels as, due to the prevalence of accidents caused on the road in which a driver has been drinking, it may be that the time has come for consideration to be given to reviewing the levels – having regard to the scientific evidence as to the effects of alcohol on a driver above 50 milligrams.” 

Wikipedia carries a list of countries and their legal limits for a driver’s alcohol-in-blood content. Cayman stands alone at the top – or bottom – of the list as the only jurisdiction at .100. In 75 other countries, including the United States and Canada, the range is from zero to .08.  

An informal check of records kept by the Caymanian Compass shows that since January 2008, and not including Brooks-Dixon, there have been 10 indictments for causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by reckless driving or causing death by driving under the influence of alcohol. 

Of cases completed in those four years, two involved a blood-alcohol level more than the legal limit, two involved suspicion and one involved an illegal substance. The other most common element that made the driving dangerous or reckless was speed. 

March 2009. Driver found guilty of causing pedestrian’s death. Admitted having two beers before incident, but left the scene no there was no test for DUI. Bad record led to sentence was three years. 

April 2009. Drink driving killed best friend, who was a passenger. Car collided with pole. Blood alcohol level was .170. Imprisonment, 18 months, November 2010. November 2010. Young female pleaded guilty to causing death by driving while under the influence of alcohol. Reading was .180. 15 months imprisonment.  

March 2011. Young male pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. Two passengers in his car killed when he hit a wall and pole while speeding away from a pursuing police car. No alcohol but testing showed ganja use. Four years.  

September 2011. Driver found guilty of causing pedestrian’s death. Driver did not stop, so no DUI test. 18 months imprisonment, but sent back to Summary Court for leaving the scene. 

Also since January 2008: Of 27 local inquests reported in the Caymanian Compass, there were 10 arising from traffic accidents. Of those 10, five incidents involved alcohol and seven people died. 

A motorcyclist was under the legal limit, with a reading of .078, but he was speeding and went off the road, crashing into a tree. 

A truck driver, with a reading of .148, was speeding and went off the road, hitting a boulder. 

Another truck driver, with a reading of .223, apparently lost control as he was speeding out of a parking lot and ended up in a canal. 

Two cousins died when the car they were in smashed into a concrete column on the wrong side of the road. The driver’s reading was .150, while his passenger’s was .120. 

Two men in their early 20s died in a single-car accident after spending the evening at a friend’s house and drinking. The driver’s reading was .214; his passenger’s was .216. 

Including the Brooks-Dixon case, these indictments and inquests together account for 14 deaths in four years. Other road deaths examined in Grand Court or Coroner’s Court may have involved high speed, but tests for blood and alcohol consumption were negative. 

Including the Brooks-Dixon case, these indictments and inquests together account for 14 deaths in four years. 

accident

Pennsylvania native Richard Martin died in this 30 November DUI wreck. The driver who hit him was sentenced to three years in prison.
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9 COMMENTS

  1. While acknowledging Justice Richard Williams observations that the local limit is higher than in other countries, it is not to be assumed that driving after drinking is acceptable conduct anywhere, whatever the legal limit is. The lowering of the blood alcohol limit would be a move in the right direction, but certainly in the UK there is a ZERO tolerance towards DUI. This is an entirely anti-social habit and carries with it the knowledge that a life could be lost….and not simply a matter of not being caught.

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  2. Not only needs the threshold be lowered, but more controls need to take place. Whenever passing a bar, especially in the Eastern Districts I wonder if all the drivers who are parked up in front are only stopping by for a glass of water/juice… It is still too accepted here that one goes to the bar or club and drives home. There is next to no public transportation at night which doesn’t help either. The police needs to be more visible and do breath tests each 2-3 times a week in different areas to bring awareness. It’s done elsewhere, why can’t Cayman help to make its roads safer?

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  3. I don’t often comment on issues like this, but as a parent a citizen I am totally opposed to lower the legal limit number. Cayman is a small island if a person needs a ride home they can call a taxi or a friend or walk home. By having a high limit it shows drivers that abuse will not be tolerated I for one appreciate that those who drink or drive in excess will be punished, I know people who have lost their licences for DUI’s they get the message, whereas you often here about people in the US still on the road even when they have several DUI’s. I have kids I need to know the roads are safe, lowering the BAC limit will NOT make them safer the police need to concentrate on all the robberies. DO NOT LOWER THE LIMIT, who cares if Cayman is at the top of the list, that’s something to be proud of, by having a high limit we are sending a message that drinking driving kills we want our roads to be safe, what’s wrong with that??

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  4. Changing the legal limit is ignoring the greater problem. We give slap-on the-wrist sentences for this behavior and we charge the miscreant with a lightweight offense. Nobody is intimidated by a 15 month or three year sentence, and a guilty conscience won’t last forever with a hardcore alcoholic. Now if we sentenced them for Vehicular Manslaughter or Negligent Homicide and instituted a lifetime ban from driving and a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars, then we might see a change. How about paying restitution to the family or burial costs as well?

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  5. Catlover2012, not only does your comment make sense, but your final sentence is entirely to the point. Patrick Brooks-Gibson gets 3 years. Richard Martin’s family lost their relative and their breadwinner. What happened to financial restitution? Consequences, Consequences, Consequences…..

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  6. I would never condone drink driving, but until the Government makes sure there is a safe, reliable and affordable public transport alternative, people will carry on drinking and driving.

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  7. Is the reasoning that if you lower the limit people will drink less? That makes no sense. The current limit did not prevent the people caught from drinking. Also, the fact that people got caught is proof that the current levels are working. In any case, the current law allows for DUI at any levels. If says if an officer observes that the driver is driving in such a manner as to not have proper control over the motor vehicle, the driver can be tested. The results of the test and the officer’s observations will be proof of DUI. The CoP needs to train his officers to do their job.

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