Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Drunk driving accidents are a growing problem


Drinking and driving in Belize is illegal, and if you rent a golf cart, having a designated driver is recommended while enjoying the San Pedro nightlife with some cocktails. Both the San Pedro Traffic Department and emergency responders have stated that the number of incidents involving drunk driving is on the rise.
One of the most recent accidents happened on April 9, 2024, when an individual was recorded driving under the influence on the northern side of San Pedro, approximately one mile north of the bridge. The driver fell asleep on the wheel, ran over a cyclist, hit a local vendor, and then fell off the cart. Two people were injured, and witnesses stated that the driver appeared highly intoxicated. The driver was detained on April 10, 2024, and charged with drunk driving the following day. However, the victim did not want to press charges, so the matter was dismissed.
The San Pedro Sun contacted the San Pedro Police Department, who stated that incidents such as these are common and most go unreported, or those involved settle the matters outside of the court. Mayor Gualberto “Wally” Nunez also commented on traffic safety and how the San Pedro Traffic Department works to prevent drunk driving incidents. “We are aware of the public concerns of the traffic sector, and we are serious about addressing traffic safety responsibly and systematically. Our officers are already improving how they address infractions (based on the recent training done in partnership with the National Transport Department). However, they are already facing major resistance from people who are ‘selective’ about the traffic laws they want to follow. We remain committed to the safety of all residents. We will continue to enforce the traffic regulations with keen attention to major infractions such as reckless driving and driving under the influence,” said Nunez. He further encourages all residents to keep documenting and reporting all incidents of public concern. “We are aware of incidents circulating on social media, and we assure everyone that our Traffic Department has issued infractions for the offenses. We support the police department in their investigation. Traffic Safety of all residents is our priority.”
Several factors contribute to drunk driving in Belize, including lack of awareness, peer pressure, poor enforcement, and alcohol availability. Drunk driving has significant and far-reaching consequences, including loss of life, serious injuries, legal consequences, and financial costs. The blood alcohol level limit in Belize is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood (0.08), the same as in the U.K., Canada, and most of the United States. Drivers caught driving under the influence of alcohol in Belize can face legal consequences, including fines up to $5000, license suspension, and imprisonment.
To prevent drunk driving, always have a designated driver, do not drink when alone, spend the night if inebriated, and do not get in a vehicle with someone who has been drinking. Drinking and driving reduces motor skills, concentration, reaction times, vision, and judgment, putting drivers, passengers, other vehicles, and pedestrians at risk. Accidents involving drunk drivers are often fatal, which is why it is essential to drink responsibly and follow all safety tips when drinking and driving.

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