Drunk driving still a concern during holiday season

The holiday season has not stopped drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service stated Thursday that it has made nine arrests for driving under the influence and two arrests for being in charge of a motor vehicle while impaired since Dec. 22. So far this month, police have arrested 42 people for drunk driving and issued 73 tickets for traffic offenses.

Since Dec. 1, 251 motor vehicle accidents of varying degrees of severity have occurred, police said.

Ten arrests since Dec. 22 stemmed from police patrols or stop checks, and one occurred from a police response to a report of a driver passed out in their vehicle.

In one incident, patrol officers stopped a driver who appeared to have a very high blood-alcohol content just past 11 p.m. on Christmas Day. Three children were in the vehicle, police said. Officers had seen the male driver engaged in an altercation with his female passenger while driving.

They stopped the car and recovered a quantity of ganja and a drug utensil. The driver was arrested on suspicion of possession and consumption of ganja, as well as DUI. The driver was later found to have a blood-alcohol content of .252. The legal limit in Cayman is .100.

The RCIPS also singled out an accident that occurred early on Dec. 28, when a gray Infiniti lost control while traveling east on Crewe Road near Desmond Drive. The car, driven by a 22-year-old man, collided with a clothing store and sideswiped several parked cars and poles. The driver was not injured, but he was arrested on suspicion of DUI and later determined to have a blood-alcohol content of .144 percent.

“In the course of our operations, we are seeing both responsible and reprehensible behavior,” said Acting Chief Inspector Everton Spence, who oversees the Traffic and Roads Policing Unit. “We are seeing designated drivers and people taking advantage of alternate transportation so they do not drive home intoxicated after holiday parties and outings.

“But we are also seeing people behind the wheel who are so clearly impaired, there is no excuse for them or those around them to allow them to drive. We again appeal to everyone to do their part this New Year’s weekend to prevent tragedies on our roads. Don’t drink and drive; but beyond that don’t allow those around you to drink and drive.”

The RCIPS is helping to sponsor the National Drug Council’s Purple Ribbon Bus, which will be providing free bus service to residents and visitors throughout New Year’s Eve celebrations. That bus, which will run from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., will have routes servicing all five districts.

The bus service was launched on Dec. 31, 2000, and this year there will be eight buses traveling regular routes between West Bay and George Town and providing hourly service to Bodden Town, East End and North Side.

The bus will be easily identifiable to waiting pedestrians, and it will stop for people who hail it. People who need a safe ride home should be on the watch for a bus with flashing purple lights and purple exterior reflective signs.

Further information can be found at www.ndc.ky/dd-purple-ribbon-bus.html.