THE Solomon Islands Police are set to introduce Random Breath Testing (RBT) for alcohol on drivers of motor vehicles, boats as well as aircraft pilots in the country.
Parliament yesterday passed the Police and Transport Legislation (Alcohol Testing) Bill which sought its approval for the legalisation of RBT by Police.
Minister for Police and National Security Hon Stanley Festus Sofu told Parliament when tabling the bill that the rate of drink-driving is growing in Solomon Islands and the bill seeks to address this matter of grave national concern.
“The main purpose of this legislation is to reduce the number of drivers affected by alcohol on the roads. This will reduce the damage, pain and suffering that result from accidents they cause.
“This legislation makes it easy for police to detect these dangerous drivers to prosecute them and get them off the road. This will greatly increase road-safety for all other persons,” Hon Sofu said.
The Minister said driving under the influence of liquor is a crime in Solomon Islands but it has been very hard for the police to detect and prosecute drivers.
“Even if police believe that a driver has been drinking, they must convince the courts that they have factual and reasonable basis for that belief.
“There is no widely accepted objective evidence or sobriety test that can be applied and accepted by the courts. Unless a driver admits to drinking or seen drinking, the case is very difficult to prove,” he added.
He said, “These frustrations and the time-consuming nature of drink-driving enforcement led to a reluctance by police to lay charges.”
The Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services the introduction of RBT would remove these existing drink-driving law enforcement problems.
“Random Breath Testing legislation will allow police officers to take a breath sample from any driver and there would be no requirement for police to prove reasonable suspicion.
“The problem of proof and the problem of not catching all impaired drivers would be eliminated upon the enforcement of this new legislation.”
Minister Sofu said RBT has proven to be the single most effective tool of curbing road trauma and road deaths throughout the world, with some countries as far as 50% reduction in road accidents.
He said the Police and Transport Legislation (Alcohol Testing) Bill is a valuable step in the continuous improvements we have seen in delivering law and order, and community safety to the people of Solomon Islands.
Source: PM Press