Raising the legal drinking age to 21 was favoured by a large majority of respondents to the Caymanian Compass’ latest online poll.
Almost 60 per cent of the 590 readers who responded to the poll said that raising the age at which residents are allowed to consume alcohol from 18 would make the roads safer.
Just over 40 per cent said lowering the drink-driving limit would make a difference.
Just under 17 per cent said neither change would be acceptable, while little over 8 per cent felt the police had enough to do already.
A total of 173 people (29.3 per cent) said a “drinking age of 21 would benefit everybody”, 59 people (10 per cent) said “lower DUI limits would reduce drink driving”, a further 180 (30.5 per cent) felt both should be tried, 99 (16.8 per cent) said “neither change is acceptable” and 49 (8.3 per cent) said, “police are already pushed beyond effective enforcement”.
One respondent said that education, rather than legal changes, would help bring safer roads.
“It is not the age. We need to educate the people young and old. We have unfortunately grown up in a culture of drink driving.
“We may not like to say it, but we have learnt to drive drunk. We Caymanians have been doing this for years. So I feel education and reducing the limit would be the correct think to do.”
Other commentators said the fault lay with traffic police for failing to enforce legislation.
“The law is not at fault; inconsistent enforcement is, as with our other laws,” wrote one.
“More rigorous policing of DUI limits is needed – more frequent road blocks and more people randomly tested,” suggested another writer.
Some felt the lack of public transport and the high cost of taxis had an impact on the levels of drink driving in Grand Cayman.
One correspondent said: “Regulate and encourage a bus system with a regular schedule and taxis that do not cost more than the night out did.”
Another put it more bluntly, demanding someone “sort out the rip-off taxis”.
The first quarter crime statistics for 2013 show that police arrested 41 people for driving under the influence in the first three months of the year, making it one of the least common traffic offences. Roughly five times as many motorists were stopped for failing to wear seat belts or using their cell phones while driving.
Anecdotally, however, drink driving appears to be more common than those statistics would suggest.
Many of the respondents to the online poll felt that more education was required alongside enforcement.
One writer advised: “More education and government advertising around drink driving with more patrols policing this, shifting the focus to this rather than vehicle licensing. We need to save and protect our people first.”
Another wrote: “There needs to be more personal responsibility, there is a view that it is OK as long as you are not caught.”
One commentator warned that raising the drinking age was not the solution.
“Regardless of the age limit, the youth will still find access to alcohol. Heavier consequences for bars and restaurants that serve minors, perhaps close their business down for one week for every infraction?”
One writer had a more dramatic solution, writing: “If I had my way, there would certainly be no liquor, cigarettes, no ‘stinking’ cigars or any type of illegal drugs in the Cayman Islands. That’s when these Islands will be drug-free, by God’s help. We need to obey God, not man.”
Next week’s poll question:
A European human rights court has ruled that life sentences for murderers are “inhuman” and should be outlawed.
Should Cayman change its policy of jailing all convicted killers for life?
Yes in all cases. Everyone deserves a chance to prove they have changed – even child killers.
Yes in some cases. Not all murders are equal in gravity. Some should have their sentences reviewed after 25 years.
No. You take a life, you should give a life. Life behind bars should remain the only sentence for murder.
No way. Bring back the death penalty.
Other (write in comments)