(CMR)The Cayman Islands Government has taken decisive actions to reduce road accidents and fatalities, passing the Traffic (Amendment) Bill on Monday, 10 October, with a unanimous vote.
Under the new amendments to the Traffic Act, the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for drivers has been reduced from 100 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood (0.1%) to 70 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood (0.07%). The new limit is more stringent than that of the United States, the United Kingdom (other than Scotland, which is 0.05%), and Canada.
The Cayman Islands has now moved from being one of the most lenient drink driving countries, and stands slightly behind the average restrictions for the world’s strictest jurisdictions against driving under the influence of alcohol.
Premier Wayne Panton, JP, MP made a passionate presentation of the Bill before the House, describing it as a matter of high priority for the Government.
“We have had an alarming and unacceptably high number of road safety accidents in this country, some of which have resulted in road fatality,” Mr. Panton said.
“As reported by the World Health Organization, driving under the influence of alcohol is a key risk factor for 27% of all road injuries. The proposed amendment within this Bill is just the beginning of the PACT government’s commitment to addressing this social problem, and lowering our maximum legal blood alcohol concentration limit is a step in the right direction towards bringing the Cayman Islands more in line with global best practices. There can be no stronger statement of our commitment to public health, safety and saving the lives of our people, including specifically young people for whom road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death globally,” added the Premier.
According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Annual Crime and Traffic Statistical Report for 2021, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses rose by 37 percent from the previous year, resulting in 312 summonses being issued. The report also stated that 26 percent of all DUI offenses involved a driver that was at least double the legal BAC limit. Approximately 36 percent of all DUI offenses in 2021 were also involved in vehicular accident.
Police Commissioner Mr. Derek Byrne expressed his support for the new amendment following the passing of the Bill.
“This critical change to the Traffic Law is an important and progressive step taken by government to tackle overall road safety while reducing serious and fatal collisions on our roads. Moreover, it emphasizes a key road safety message – do not drink and drive. The amendment reflects our intolerance of drunk drivers on our public roadways who choose to endanger themselves and the lives of others. The RCIPS will be actively enforcing the changes to the legal BAC limit, especially as we approach the festive season,” Mr. Byrne stated.
The Traffic (Amendment) Bill will take effect as soon as it is gazetted.