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Roadside sobriety tests delayed a third time

The chairman of an anti-alcohol abuse charity was stunned by news that the start of roadside breath test checkpoints had been postponed for the third time.

Anthony Santucci, head of Cada, said yesterday that repeated delays to the introduction of handheld breathalysers at checkpoints were “tiresome”.

Mr Santucci was speaking after checkpoints scheduled for Paget and Devonshire this weekend were called off because of a problem with the wording of the needed notice in the Official Gazette.

However, he added: “We’re still a lot closer today than we were a decade ago.

“It’s amazing to me that they don’t have a more appropriate channel to make sure that the wording is correct.”

Both police and the Government’s Department of Communications declined to comment yesterday on what the problem with the announcement was.

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Martin Weekes, whose name appeared on the notice in the Official Gazette, said: “The Bermuda Police Service advises that due to an administrative error by the BPS, regarding the publication of the road sobriety checkpoint notice, the road sobriety checkpoints specified in that notice will not be conducted this weekend.”

The notice was published yesterday and on Monday in The Royal Gazette.

Mr Weekes added: “I would like to reiterate the message that the BPS will continue to actively address drinking and driving on the roads this weekend using existing legislation.”

Mr Santucci said it was “critically important that this be done, and done right”.

He added: “We have had eight fatalities — we are still on course for the average of 12 a year.”

Mr Santucci added that Cada was still “cautiously optimistic” about the effect of the roadside checkpoints.

He said: “If more people talk about this issue, that’s a good thing. We’re one step closer. We can see light at the end of the tunnel.

“I can’t say we are not disappointed — nor can I say we are surprised.”

Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of National Security, said: “It is disappointing to learn that once again roadside sobriety testing had been postponed.”

Mr Dunkley said there had been no explanation of what the error was, or when it would be amended.

“Curiously now both the Minister of Transport and National Security have been silent on the inability to actually start the checkpoints; this after having rushed the legislation through the house in July.”

He added: “It’s time that the Government, Chambers and BPS get together and sort this out so this good initiative can be launched.”

The notice, the “Roadside Sobriety Checkpoint No. 3 Notice 2018”, said: “Road sobriety checkpoints will be conducted by the Bermuda Police Service on the dates and in the parishes provided below:

• “Friday 14 September 2018 Devonshire and Paget Parishes”

• “Saturday 15 September 2018 Devonshire and Paget Parishes”

• “Sunday 16 September 2018 Devonshire and Paget Parishes”

Legislation allowing roadside sobriety tests was passed by the House of Assembly in July and transport minister Walter Roban said it would be the first step to tackle Bermuda’s high rate of death on the roads.

Wayne Caines, the national security minister, later pledged that checkpoints would be set up for the first time over the Cup Match holiday at the start of August. The plan was dropped because MPs had to return to the House to get legal approval for the use of handheld breathalysers.

Mr Caines afterwards announced testing would begin last weekend but the checkpoints were delayed again because of “technical issues”.

Mr Weekes said later that the technical problems had been resolved and testing would go ahead this weekend.