The Government has drafted new legislation which could see tougher action being taken against drunk drivers and business owners who continue to sell alcohol to persons who are already drunk.
The announcement of the proposed measures comes on the heels of several accidents involving drunk drivers. Many of those accidents resulted in loss of life and serious injuries.
In a statement, President Irfaan Ali said he has heard the pleas of Guyana and he knows road safety is a big concern in the country, noting that driving while under the influence is causing too many deaths and too much trauma for too many.
This proposed Bill seeks to amend the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Act, Cap. 82:21 for the purpose of strengthening provisions that prohibit drunkenness on premises that are licensed to sell alcohol.
“Clause 2 of the Bill seeks to amend section 2 of the Principal Act by inserting a new definition for the term “drunken person”. A “drunken person” is defined as a person whose physical or mental conduct is substantially impaired as a result of the introduction of intoxicating liquor into the person’s body and who exhibits those plain and easily observed or discovered outward manifestations of behaviour commonly known to be produced by the overconsumption of intoxicating liquor, and “drunkenness” shall be construed accordingly,” the President announced.
The bill also seeks to expand the duties placed on a licence holder to not permit drunkenness on his/her premises and creates new duties for that licence holder to discourage drinking and driving.
The new subsection provides that a licence holder shall not permit any drunkenness on his premises nor sell, give or barter or allow another person to sell, give or barter intoxicating liquor to a drunken person within the premises.
Additionally, the licence holder is mandated to not sell, give or barter intoxicating liquor to a person he knows is likely to leave the premises by driving a motor vehicle unless a designated driver is identified.
“Consequently, he shall not sell, give or barter intoxicating liquor to a person identified as a designated driver. Further, where the licence holder knows that a drunken person is attempting to drive or is in charge of a motor vehicle, he shall inform the nearest police station and request their immediate assistance,” the President proposed.
A licence holder will also be required to post signs and ensure that announcements are made, on the premises that discourage drinking and driving.
In addition, the proposed legislation will also seek to increase the fines for breach of these duties by the licence holder from $2000 to $100,000 for a first offence, and from $5000 to $200,000 for a second offence.
The amendment will also make it mandatory that a licence holder refuses to admit to his business/premises, any person who is drunk, violent, quarrelsome, or disorderly.
A breach of that provision could see a fine of $100,000.