Opinion: Alcohol

POSTED: 02/23/12 2:32 PM

That the new penal code will contain an article that punishes reckless driving under the influence of alcohol with a maximum penalty of 9 years seems impressive, but it is not the complete story. To make this article effective, St. Maarten also needs to amend its traffic ordinance.

As things stand now, there are no standards for driving under the influence. The ordinance only mentions the so-called dronkeman’s proef  – the drunk man’s test. As long as a motorist is able to walk a straight line or to stand on one leg, he is good to go on the road.

Taking St. Maarten into the twenty-first century by equipping the police with breathalyzer equipment is pointless at the moment.


The traffic ordinance does not contain articles that specify standards for the permitted levels of alcohol percentage in the blood.

It is therefore up to either the minister of justice or the minister of transport – or to an alert Member of Parliament – to introduce the relevant articles in the traffic ordinance. This will only happen if said ministers or parliamentarians show some understanding for the dangers driving under the influence poses to others, especially to children who are the most vulnerable users of our public roads.

If that initiative is not forthcoming the message is clear and it needs no further explanation.

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