Drink-driver loses appeal after rum excuse’
A man who refused a breath test because he thought a rum-based colon cleaning remedy would cause him to fail it has lost an appeal against his conviction for refusal to give a breath sample.
George James said he drank a mix of overproof rum, garlic and honey after he crashed a car and before he spoke to police.
However, Acting Justice Jeffrey Elkinson upheld the decision of magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo that James’s version of events did not give him the right to refuse a breath test.
Mr Justice Elkinson wrote in a judgment published last week: “The magistrate was right to reject those submissions and proceed to convict the appellant on a very clear refusal to give a breath sample.
“The appellant’s knowledge that he would fail the test could never be said to be a reasonable excuse not to take it.”
Magistrates’ Court earlier heard evidence from police that they found a car blocking Sound View Road in Sandys after it had collided with a wall in the early hours of March 4 last year.
The owner of the car was contacted and told police James had been behind the wheel. James later returned to the scene and spoke to police.
He admitted that he had been driving the vehicle and that he had four beers earlier in the evening.
He was arrested and taken to Hamilton Police Station but he refused to take a breath test.
James told the officers that several days before the crash he had started a “colon cleaning” process, which involved drinking Jamaican white rum and garlic.
Officers reported that they smelled alcohol on James, but not garlic.
James told Magistrates’ Court during his trial that he had lost control of the car as he negotiated a corner.
He added: “I may have reached for something.”
James claimed he called police when he was unable to move the car, waited for 30 minutes, then went home where he drank the cocktail of rum, garlic and honey.
He said: “I was conflicted about the test because knowing the content of the Jamaican rum, an overproof rum, I would have failed that test.”
Michael Scott, who appeared for James, argued his client had a reasonable excuse to refuse the breath test in the circumstances.
But Mr Justice Elkinson wrote: “It is hard to discern the merit in such a submission where effectively the appellant himself determined that he had a reasonable excuse for not taking the breath test.
“The reasonable excuse amounts to nothing more than the appellant’s opinion that he would fail the breath test because of the alcoholic content of his colon cleansing mixture.
“It is an extraordinary notion that a refusal to take a breath test on the basis that you will fail it could be a reasonable excuse.”
He added that if James had taken the breath test, he could have later argued in court that he had drank the alcohol after he had been driving.
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