AG defends police on breathalysers
Posted Wednesday, October 16 2013 at 01:00
Kampala- The Attorney General (AG) has justified the arrest of drink drivers basing on the Breath Alcohol Content law that has been used by the police to arrest drunken drivers.
Mr Peter Nyombi made the remarks while defending a constitutional petition in which a lawyer, Mr Allan Mulindwa, claims the Constitution does not make it an offence for anyone to drive even with the highest alcohol content in his breath.
Mr Nyombi asserted that Mr Mulindwa’s petition is misconceived and intended to bring to an end the speedy criminal trial of motorists suspected of driving with the blood concentration above the prescribed limit.
“ I know that the arrest and prosecution of motorists by the Uganda Police Force and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) is within the provisions of the Constitution,” State Attorney Eva Kabundu, who filed the defence on behalf of the AG, stated in her affidavit last week.
In his petition, Mr Mulindwa claims that the then minister of Transport, Mr John Nasasira, was wrong to make the traffic regulations which makes it a crime for one who exceeds a certain level of alcohol in his or her breath since the Traffic and Road Safety Act 2004 enacted by Parliament only makes it a crime for one whose blood alcohol content exceeds a certain percentage, not breath.
He claims Mr Nasasira’s action amounted to grabbing the powers of Parliament which is mandated to make laws.
Mr Mulindwa adds that the act of the DPP in causing the prosecution of motorists on the basis of these Regulations when the act of exceeding the breath Alcohol limit doesn’t constitute a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda.
Mr Nasasira’s regulations make it an offence for one to drive a vehicle with Breath Alcohol Content level exceeding 35 milligrams out 100 milligrams of breath and alcohol content exceeding 35 milligrams in 100 milligrams of blood.
According to Mr Mulindwa, the police are supposed to take blood tests of drivers it suspects to have exceeded the prescribed alcohol level before it can charge them, but instead they have been relying only on results of breathalyser equipment to charge them.
Mr Mulindwa wants the Constitutional Court to declare the regulations, actions of the police and the DPP illegal and issue a permanent injunction blocking the police and the DPP from enforcing them.
Recently, police launched an operation to arrest and apprehend people who drive while under the influence of alcohol. However, the operations have attracted public uproar, with some sections of the public claiming the police have turned them into a money making venture. MPs had also tasked police officers to provide proof that most accidents are caused at night by people under the influence of alcohol. But Mr Andrew Kaweesi, the then Kampala Metropolitan po
lice commander, said the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 provides how police can determine who is drunk and the alcoholic level in the body.