Drunk drivers to be arrested, overnight in police cell

By Hyunsook Siutaia 27 December 2020, 2:00PM

Motorists who are caught driving under the influence of alcohol will be arrested and released on bail the next day, says the Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil.

The warning by the nation’s top cop comes on the back of fatal road crashes as well as vehicle crashes in the last fortnight that have been attributed to alcohol.

Fuiavailili said the Police will arrest those found driving under the influence immediately and will be released on bail the next day when they have sobered up, while dispelling rumours drivers arrested for driving under the influence will remain in jail until the New Year.

"No we will not do that. We arrest someone if there's a cause, if we believe that the person is under the influence of the alcohol and unable to operate a motor vehicle, we can make that arrest and that person will later on be bailed for the most part,” he said in an interview on Saturday afternoon.

“So the next day they should have sobered up and they can go home and hopefully that individual won’t go and make the same mistake again.”

Police-manned roadblocks have been set up around Upolu and Savai’i, in a bid to tackle rising traffic offences including road fatalities with the Commissioner revealing that they had operational plans in place for the festive season.

"There’s a lot of road blocks out there every night now and so it’s not only in the Apia town area, we also have road blocks in Savai’i and back in the villages," he said. "We’ve got operational plans for the Christmas season and new year season to have road blocks and we’re targeting those who are drunk and intoxicated  and also those who are driving with no licenses so if you don’t have a driver's license, we will ticket you."

According to Fuiavailili, the majority of the violations they found this year is driving without a driver’s license and they plan to strictly enforce the law at this time of the year. 

"Most of the tickets issued this year 2020, I think it’s one of the top violations we have so far are those driving without drivers license, and so we are going to enforce that big time during this Christmas and new years season," he added.

The Commissioner said the large number of vehicle accidents this week was unfortunate and they are appealing to the public to be aware of the consequences of drunk driving.

However, he claimed that statistics still show that this year is similar to last year's. 

"It’s very unfortunate, we’ve been on the radio, television and we go out to the communities and we work with the Ministry of Women and we warn people of the consequence of speed driving but it all comes down to the individual that makes that decision.

"The only thing we can do and we’ve talked to our partners like F.E.S.A. (Fire and Emergency Services Authority) and we’ve also talked with the Liquor Board and we have shown them the statistics.

"Incidents of traffic accidents this year compared to last year is about the same. Interestingly, looking at the statistics, it’s about the same looking at this point last year. 

“And our goal is to bring it down so that’s why we’re doing the enforcement and we go out and reach out to the communities, roadblocks and safety programs."

One of the vehicle accidents that the Commissioner made reference to occurred last Wednesday at the Tuanaimato four-corner intersection near Farmer Joe supermarket.

It was an incident that involved a delivery truck and a small blue-coloured passenger vehicle, where a father passed away due to the seriousness of his injuries. 

Fuiavailili said that the delivery truck had run into the passenger vehicle.

"The delivery truck ran into a smaller passenger car at the intersection at Siusega where the driver of the small passenger car died,” he said. 

“Investigations are on-going and I’m not sure if someone has been charged yet but if there are reasons of suspicions that someone was under the influence of alcohol then we’ll do whatever we need to do from that point on."

By Hyunsook Siutaia 27 December 2020, 2:00PM

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