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Police driving for zero tolerance alcohol policy

Saturday February 08, 2020 Written by Published in Crime
Probationary Constable Terence Maruariki conducts a ‘pretend” breath test on fellow Probationary Constable Grace Stusky. Both work in the Frontline Division. 16061041 Probationary Constable Terence Maruariki conducts a ‘pretend” breath test on fellow Probationary Constable Grace Stusky. Both work in the Frontline Division. 16061041

Efforts to implement new road safety measures has gained momentum after a roundtable discussion this week.

 

Police is pushing for a zero tolerance level for alcohol consumption by all drivers.

It says this could stem the road tragedies which has become a major concern in Rarotonga.

And they have received the backing of Prime Minister Henry Puna, who wants the police service at the forefront of driving the legislative changes, all the way to Parliament.

Puna has called for some changes to the road rule and reducing the present limit of 400 mcg of alcohol per litre of breath to 250 mcg, is among them.

That limit is achievable in a short timeframe but Police, following a roundtable discussion yesterday on the road safety issues, said it will stay firm on demanding a zero limit by June 2020.

Commissioner of Police Maara Tetava indicated in less than six months, the legislation could well change again to reflect this unique rule.

The roundtable discussion spearheaded by PM Puna included key stakeholders from Health, Internal Affairs, Education, Crown Law, Religious Advisory Council, National Youth Reps, Road Safety Council, and the Police.

It provided a much-needed sounding board for the PM so that proposed changes to the law could be readied in time for a March sitting of Parliament.

“We’re here to talk about a serious problem plaguing our youth,” Puna said.

Twenty four deaths in the last five years is the reality of facts that are telling us what needs to be done, he stressed.

Trevor Pitt, the police spokesperson, said while the stakeholders provided value as a sounding board for political action, it is the consensus-building around specific change that the prime minister wanted to hear.

Pitt said that consensus now seems to be growing around tackling what has long been the root of concerns on the roads – alcohol.

“The focus on alcohol is among what most agree are the ‘low hanging fruit’ of what can be done relatively quickly. The others include measures to curb the use of cell phones and earphones while driving, and compulsory safety helmets for all motorcyclists.”

PM Puna urged everyone at the table to be consistent in the messaging about change. And to gel the initiatives, he sought the cooperation of those present to position the police service at the forefront of driving the legislative changes, all the way to Parliament.

Trevor Pitt said: “The PM had no difficulty with sustaining the political will but he said that the support needed to be driven by the community and enabled by all the key agencies, including the police.”