A man who tested at nearly four times the legal limit for blood-alcohol content was arrested Saturday morning after a single-car crash.
He was one of nine people arrested in the Cayman Islands over the weekend for suspected drunken driving. Two of the arrests occurred in Cayman Brac.
According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the 37-year-old man, who lives in George Town, was tested at 0.387 percent blood-alcohol content, or BAC, following a 1 a.m. Saturday wreck near the Cayman National roundabout in George Town. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI, police said.
RCIPS officials said that his BAC was one of the highest levels of drunkenness Cayman police have ever observed behind the wheel.
Blood-alcohol content is given as a percentage of alcohol in the blood or breath when compared to the amount of blood in a person’s circulatory system. A 0.1 percent blood-alcohol content is one-10th of one percent, meaning that an individual’s blood contains one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts of blood.
To put that in perspective, Cayman’s legal limit for BAC is 0.1 percent. The Web MD site defines a blood-alcohol level of 0.2 percent – twice the legal limit – as causing the intoxicated person difficulty walking, double vision and nausea.
A 0.3 percent blood-alcohol level may lead to the person passing out, shaking, experiencing memory loss and/or a lowered body temperature.
A 0.4 percent alcohol content can lead to trouble breathing, coma or possible death.
The RCIPS reported that it arrested a handful of drivers who measured between 0.17 percent and 0.21 percent blood-alcohol content during various incidents between Jan. 5 and Jan. 8. Some of the tests were conducted using field breathalyzer units and others via blood tests done at the hospital. In one instance on Sunday afternoon, police said an intoxicated Dodge Ram driver ran into the back of a Ford Escape SUV along Shamrock Road before striking a concrete wall. The Ford was carrying four children, who all were checked out at the scene and released with no injuries.
Police said the 40-year-old suspect had a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 percent.
On Saturday night, a car crashed into another vehicle waiting at a police roadblock along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. The 34-year-old driver was arrested after his blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.173 percent.
“The holiday season is over, but drunk driving is continuing and so is our enforcement,” said RCIPS Inspector Ian Yearwood. “With over 10 accidents on average per day, and extremely high levels of intoxication by some behind the wheel, we know we cannot change behavior on the road by ourselves.
“We need the public to work with us; if you see someone who is clearly intoxicated and insists on getting behind the wheel, call us.”
The traffic unit recorded more than half a dozen weekends between July and December last year where 20 or more crashes occurred during a 48-hour period.
Typically, individuals arrested and charged for drunk driving do not have their drivers’ licenses taken away until they are either convicted or they admit to their crime before a court.
“The normal presumption of innocence under the law applies and in cases of DUI, it is the magistrate or judge who decides on driving privileges,” according to an RCIPS statement.
Local defense attorneys who handle DUI cases told the Cayman Compass that there are some circumstances in which drivers who plead guilty can agree to hand in their licenses early, but that is typically at the defendant’s discretion with advice from counsel.
Traffic court cases can be lengthy affairs. The Compass reported on one such matter involving a local lawyer who was sentenced to prison for three years for injuring two tourists in a hit-and-run accident on West Bay Road in January 2015, who faced separate charges of speeding and drink driving dating back to 2011.
Despite at least 25 scheduled court dates between 2011 and 2016, the DUI matter was not adjudicated until early 2017.
How Cayman compares
The Cayman Islands has one of the highest limits for blood-alcohol content in the world, among those countries that do have limits for drunken driving.
By comparison, neighboring Jamaica’s limit is 0.04 percent. England, the U.S., Trinidad and Mexico all have a limit of 0.08, although some municipalities enforce a lower rate.
Germany, France, Ireland and Canada have a 0.05 BAC limit.
A handful of countries do not impose any upward limit on blood-alcohol content for drunk drivers, including Vanuatu and Laos.
Anyone convicted on indictment in Cayman for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can face up to 10 years in prison and a driving disqualification of up to five years.