There will be no roadside breath test checkpoints over the Cup Match holiday, it was revealed yesterday.
However, the Bermuda Police Service and the Ministry of National Security still pledged a “special” emphasis on tackling drink-driving over the four-day weekend.
Anthony Santucci, executive director of anti-alcohol abuse charity Cada, said he had expected a more urgent approach to combat the death toll on the roads. Mr Santucci said: “Cada is certainly disappointed that we won’t be having sobriety checkpoints this Cup Match. This is the biggest holiday of the year.”
He said Cada had been pushing for the implementation of roadside sobriety checkpoints for more than ten years.
Mr Santucci added: “With seven fatalities this year to date, I would have thought there would have been a greater sense of urgency.
“Clearly, something fell down somewhere. Clearly, the seven Ps philosophy was not applied. However, I am sure the minister will take all the necessary steps to fix the problem.”
Mr Caines told a press conference yesterday afternoon that “there were some legal hurdles that we did not jump in time for Cup Match”.
He added: “As much as we want to have the roadside sobriety testing initiated this weekend, and we all did, we are also under a constitution and a legal framework and so what we did not want to do is jeopardise any civil rights or to be indeed found afoul of the law.
“So, we made a decision not to commence with the actual roadside sobriety official testing.”
Mr Caines added: “We believe that we will have all the prerequisite legal requirements completed in the next two weeks.”
Martin Weekes, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, explained that the Act governing roadside sobriety checkpoints came into force yesterday.
He added: “Unfortunately the way the legislation is written, we have to gazette all the positions where we will be doing them for five days.
“That puts it outside of the Cup Match Weekend.
“That said, we will be sending a letter this week to the senior magistrate seeking authorisation to commence the actual checks, the roadside checkpoints, over the next couple of weeks.
“This weekend, however, we will be putting a special emphasis on drink-driving generally.
“We will be actively looking to arrest people for driving whilst impaired and with excess alcohol.
We will be stopping cars, we will running other types of stops.
“If the evidence is there that allows us to believe that there is reasonable, probable cause that you have got excess alcohol, you will be arrested.”
Mr Santucci added: “We at Cada would like to say to all Bermudians is: ABCD — always bus, cab or designated driver.
“Please be aware that sobriety checkpoints will be here soon enough so that we can start to strive to change Bermuda’s relationship with alcohol.”
Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of National Security, added: “The OBA understands this is a bitter pill to swallow in that the PLP government could not make their self-imposed deadline of Cup Match for the implementation of roadside sobriety checkpoints and it means that a promise made has not been a promise kept.
“With the Act only being gazetted today it was clear the commitment by the PLP would not be met.
“However, we understand the varied challenges with this type of legislation and it is best to ensure that this, and any legislation, is enacted correctly or issues will arise to the detriment of the intended law and people we serve.”
Mr Caines announced last Friday that roadside breath test checkpoints would be used over the Cup Match holiday and the move was backed by several restaurants.
Saliya Alahakoon, manager at Henry VIII, said the restaurant supported the roadside checks.
Mr Alahakoon added yesterday that the failure to implement them in time for the holiday did not change how the restaurant would operate. “Our responsibility is that we need to take care of all our customers and patrons.”
Mr Caines also warned anyone intent on drink-driving or speeding that they are part of the problem.
By Lisa Simpson