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