Nov 08, 2022 News
– AG says law crucial to public safety
Kaieteur News – The National Assembly on Monday passed the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill 2022, which was presented by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC.
In his presentation, Nandlall said that the Government of Guyana has taken corrective measures to curb road accidents, injuries and fatalities created by drunk driving. He underscored the importance of the Bill to public safety.
The Attorney General disclosed that over the last decade, 1303 persons were killed on the country’s roadways. He said 1000 were males, more than 200 females and 89 children. The figures show that there are at least 100 deaths annually, a staggering number when compared to Guyana’s population size.
Legislative reform is one avenue undertaken by the government to combat road accidents. Nandlall said that government is proposing to strengthen and expand existing legislation by imposing more punitive measures.
Once amended, drunk drivers can face increased jail time, permanent revocation of their driver’s licence, be charged for motor manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm.
The Bill seeks to amend the Principal Act by inserting a new section, 35A which states that a person can be found guilty of motor manslaughter, where that person causes the death of another person while driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a drug.
This offence is an indictable one and the penalty is a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years. Where the person has caused grievous bodily harm to another person, while driving under the influence, the penalty is a term of imprisonment of not less than five years.
A person convicted under this Section shall be disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence for three years. Persons will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence for 12 months.
Where the person is convicted for two consecutive offences, the person shall be disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence for 24 months, and where there is a third conviction, the person shall be permanently disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence.
At present, the penalty for driving under the influence and losing control of a vehicle is a fine ranging from $30,000 to $60,000 or imprisonment for 12 months and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, there is a fine ranging from $40,000 to $80,000 and imprisonment.
With the passing of the legislation, the fines will be increased to not less than $200,000 for first-time offenders and $300,000 for second-time offenders.
Additionally, amendments to the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Act Chapter 82:21 will be made for the purpose of strengthening provisions that prohibit drunkenness on premises licensed under the Principal Act.
Clause 3 of the Bill seeks to amend Section 54 of the Principal Act by substituting for Subsection (1) the duties placed on a licensed holder to not permit drunkenness on the licensed premises and creates new duties for the licensed holder to discourage drinking and driving.
The new subsection provides that a licensed 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 licensed 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 licensed 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. Moreover, a licensed holder is also now required to conspicuously post signs and ensure that announcements are made, on the premises that discourage drinking and driving.
In addition, Section 54 is also amended in Subsection (2) to increase the fines for breach of these duties by the licensed holder from $2000 to $100,000 for a first offence, and from $5000 to $200,000 for a second offence.
The effect of this amendment is that it is now mandatory that a licensed holder must refuse to admit to the premises any person who is drunk, violent, quarrelsome, or disorderly. Additionally, Clause 4 amends Subsection (2) to increase the penalty for breach of this provision from $3000 to $100,000.
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