Police at checkpoints to wear bodycams
Police deployed to new roadside drink-driving checkpoints will wear body cameras to ensure proper procedures are followed, the Minister of Transport said yesterday.
Walter Roban added that special training in the UK would make sure the risk of an officer waving through a relative or friend who had failed a test would be minimised.
Mr Roban said: “They will be trained for all these situations. “The use of bodycams is to be included in the checkpoint process so these checkpoints will be filmed for possible use as evidence later. It is another line of accountability that will be there for the authorities who are operating checkpoints.”
Mr Roban was speaking at a round-table discussion on recently passed legislation to toughen up on drink driving with Jasmin Smith, director of the Transport Control Department.
The Road Traffic (Road Sobriety Check Points) Amendment Act was passed with no objections in the Senate on Wednesday and will become law when signed by John Rankin, the Governor.
Mr Roban explained that anyone who failed a roadside test on a handheld breathalyser would be taken to Hamilton police station for a second test.
The result of that test will be used in court evidence, but it was unclear if a failure at the roadside would be enough to ensure a conviction.
Mr Roban said: “If you fail the first test, you can have a secondary test at the station. That is the primary evidentiary test — it will be indisputable if they fail the secondary test.”
He said there may be legal wriggle room on whether a first-test failure could be used in court.
The minister also said that tests for drivers under the influence of drugs were also in the pipeline.
Mr Roban said: “The other forms of substances that can be measured through a possible use of checkpoints will be dealt with further down the road. We need to make sure this is deployed effectively and then look at other issues.”
Mr Roban said the penalty for failure of a breath test or refusal to co-operate with checkpoint requirements would be $1,500 or 12 months in jail.
He added: “Whether you take it or not, you are subject to the same fine in the courts.”
Mr Roban warned that driving bans will increase for repeat offenders.
He explained: “The first offence is 12 months, second offence is 18 months and third offence is $5,000 and two years.”
Mr Roban said he hopes to improve the provision of alternative transport, especially at night, to work alongside the late-night transport scheme run by anti-alcohol abuse charity Cada.
He added: “Once the sobriety checkpoints are deployed, we realise that people need options to get home. There are some private security schemes which can assist. We support those and we will look for other options.”
The Government plans to reduce road accidents, injuries and deaths by 25 per cent over the next five years.
Ms Smith said TCD was in the process of compiling statistics to check progress.
She added: “We have gone through all the cases that have gone through the courts and we will compare that with other government departments to come up with a number that is true as a measurement tool.”
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