Doctor Marcus Day, the Director of the Saint Lucia based Caribbean Drug and Alcohol Research Institute (CDARI)), believes that the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol is reflected in the number of road accidents being recorded.
“I think that there are a number of accidents that we cannot attribute a cause to and I think that alcohol is one of those factors,” Day told the Times.
He said he did not think that Saint Lucia has the data and as a result needs to collect it.
According to Doctor Marcus Day, the police are hampered by existing legislation.
The CDARI Director told the Times that this country has no legislation entitling the police to use breathalyzers.
He explained that the current legislation calls for drawing blood to determine blood alcohol levels.
“This means you have to take the driver to Victoria Hospital or some other health facility and even more important is the chain of custody of that blood and the results before it goes to trial,” Day observed.
He noted that there is a lot in the legislation that needs correcting.
The CDARI Director called for both a change in the legislation and education.
“I think that we need public education – we need to change the attitude of people that driving under the influence of alcohol is acceptable.” Day declared.
He told the Times that he has been working in his field for twenty-five years.
Day revealed that during that time, he has heard a number of stories from police officers who have pulled over people of “status”, including persons in government, lawyers and judges who were under the influence.
He said according to the information he obtained, those persons were not charged but taken home because of their status in the society.
“It is very difficult to press these kinds of laws in a society that is so closely knit,” the CDARI Director asserted.
“I think we need to change the legislation and apply it indiscriminately and start educating people that it is unacceptable to drive under the influence of alcohol.”