PORT OF SPAIN –– Trinidadian males who habitually drive with a beer in one hand and their other hand on the wheel will face a hefty $5,000 fine and six months jail, once the new Motor Vehicle Bill becomes law.
Once you break that cork, you are breaking the law.
The bill, which was debated in the Senate yesterday, makes it an offence for a “person to drive or operate a motor vehicle while having
in the cabin area . . . an opened bottle, container or vessel with any alcoholic beverage”.
“You see persons driving down the road with a beer in their hand . . . . We are eliminating that. If you want to go and enjoy yuhself, you park up your car and do what yuh have to do and get somebody else to drive you home, or go with somebody else,” Minister of Transport Stephen Cadiz warned as he piloted the Motor Vehicle Bill in the Senate yesterday.
He explained that in the “chartered buses” or the “party” or “fete” bus that goes on excursions, there will be a demarcation line beyond which there would be no alcohol.
Cadiz said there would also be a zero tolerance policy for public vehicles and vehicles for hire, whereby these drivers must have zero alcohol in their system — “breath alcohol concentration must not exceed zero microgrammes” — once the bill becomes law.
“Whether you are driving a PTSC bus, a government-owned vehicle or a taxi for hire . . . you must be stone cold sober,” Cadiz said.
New drivers must also have a “zero blood alcohol level”, he added.
Able-bodied persons who park in spaces designated for the differently abled in supermarkets, pharmacies and other public places will also be fined up to $5,000.
“So your groceries will no longer cost you [just] $500 [if you park in these spots],” Cadiz warned.
All passengers — no longer just the driver and front passenger — but everyone will have to use seat belts under the new law. This would include users of heavy trucks, police and emergency vehicles, who under the current law are not required to use seat belts. They will have to be seat-belted, Cadiz said.
People selling used cars will be required to have vehicle trader certificates.
“How many times we have seen people reading the classified ads, or a number on a lamp post, and people go and put down $30,000 deposit . . . and then can’t find the individual. If you are in the business of selling second-hand vehicles, you will have to have a vehicle trade certificate, otherwise the vehicle would not be transferred,” he said.
Cadiz said this requirement would also eliminate the trading of stolen vehicles.
He told the Senate the trade in cars was healthy: in the first four months of this year, some 20,000 new cars were registered compared with 33,000 for the whole of 2014. Cadiz was piloting the new Motor Vehicle Bill, which, among other things would modernize this country’s Licensing Authority by replacing it with a Motor Vehicle Authority.