War on drink driving bears fruit as cases, accidents drop


Motorists have been cautioned that a recent court ruling on breathalysers is not a licence to drive under the influence of alcohol.

In fact, the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) says more than 2,800 drivers have been charged this year alone, about half of them since April after the Court of Appeal judgment by the three-judge bench.

Tens of persons were freed on the basis of the ruling which quashed the Traffic Breathalyser Regulations, a move misinterpreted as legalising drunk driving.

But Duncan Kabogong, the deputy director in charge of safety at the NTSA, said the ofenders werre now being charged under the Traffic Act.

"Previously, we charged the suspects under our own regulations which were successfully challenged as they were inferior to an Act of Parliament," added the NTSA official.

He was happy that the crackdown on drink driving was yielding good results. Deaths caused by traffic accidents, for instance, had fallen by nearly a third in June compared to 2016.

Appellate Judges Fatuma Sichale, GBM Kariuki and Festus Azangalala upheld the ruling of the High Court but agreed with NTSA on the need to crack down on driving under the influence alcohol, blaming it for road accidents.

A petitioner had sought orders outlawing the use of alcoblow arguing that it was dehumanising and a breach of rights to enjoy including by consuming alcohol.

Official records indicate a steep decline in the number of reported cases on drink driving.

In September alone, there were 128 cases of drink driving that were booked compared to 562 last year.

For the nine months between January and September, arrests for the offence dropped by a third to 2,814.

Recently, NTSA introduced new breathalyser gadgets as it intensifies war against driving under the influence of alcohol, alongside random checks at mobile inspection points.

Mobile testing is intended to beat motorists keen on taking safe routes home after consuming above the permissible levels.

WhatsApp and Facebook groups have been set up to warn revelers where check points have been mounted, indicating how technology may be aiding offenders to get away.

Suspects arrested for the offence are usually detained to sober up before being charged in court.