The PPS who refused to submit to a breath test after his car fatally struck a pedestrian and a former member who had also refused to do so, in the past, because he had swallowed the “cough syrup”, he said. And what about the public? Does the law allow us to imitate? How the device really works? To answer these questions: the chief inspector Mohit Ramah from the Traffic Branch will answer the following questions.
1) Tell me, Mr. Inspector, do we have the right to do like politicians and refuse to submit to an alcohol test?
No. According to the Road Traffic Act, police have the right to ask you to submit based on “reasonable suspicions» (NdlR, une haleine qui pourrait mettre le feu à une station d’essence, par exemple). Moreover, it is necessary to perform an alcohol test if your vehicle is involved in an accident, if you have breached the code of the road or if you are “in charge of the vehicle.” Refusing to an alcohol breath test is an offense, in fact. Unless you have a good excuse …
2) Really? Some examples of what is considered good excuses, please?
If you have asthma or if you have an injury to the mouth …
3) What if you swallowed a whole bottle of syrup against cough?
No, the excuse is not valid! You should not be driving in this case. You should also read the instructions on medications, there is a triangle in particular indicating whether they are consistent with the policies. Anyway, if the “syrup” in question contains ethanol, the amount which can be found in the blood is minimal, nothing comparable with what we find if you swallowed bottles of alcohol.
4) Has the police have the right to force us to “souflé dan balon” if one is in the passenger seat?
As I have said, we have the right to do so if we believe that it is you who are the person who has responsibility for the vehicle. Take the example of someone who has a learner. There is a person who is supposed to be “in charge of the vehicle.” So, if he is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, we have the right to ask him to take the test.
5) What do we risk if we refuse?
The police may consider that this is what is called a “prima facie evidence”. That is to say that we consider de facto driving under the influence of alcohol because you have refused to submit to an alcohol test.
6) How does it work precisely this breath test?
The first one starts with an alcohol test (Editor’s note, made using a breathalyzer, unit displaying the BAC from the analysis of exhaled air), which only gives an indication of the rate alcohol. Know that this rate should not exceed 23 micrograms per 100 milliliters (ml) of expired air. But this preliminary test data are not admissible as evidence in court. Why – if the breath test indicates that you have exceeded the limit – we take you to the hospital to perform two other tests: blood and urine. Tests, which themselves are admitted as evidence in a court of law. Thus, the samples are sealed and shipped to the Forensic Science Laboratory for analysis.
If the alcohol level found exceeds 50 milligrams (mg) per 100 ml of blood and 67 mg per 100 ml of urine, then you are in trouble…
7) What are the penalties for those who drive after drinking and found positive?
If it is a first offense for the concerning and if the court finds that the person is guilty, he will have to pay a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 and he has a risk of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months and a license suspension for at least 8 months. If the person is a recidivist, then the amount of the fine he may pay ranges between Rs 20,000 and Rs 50 000. He risk an imprisonment for a period ranging from 6 to 12 months. He also risks a license suspension of at least 8 months or so outright cancellation of the permit. Then he must start all over again and go through the learner box.
8) Let us return to the BAC. Those you have mentioned, how many glasses roughly is equivalent to the BAC?
Hard to say. This depends, among others, the body size, if you have consumed alcohol on an empty stomach, etc. There are some who can pass out after two sips and others that still hold up after three bottles of whiskey.
9) How many “vans-labs” do you have in the police force?
We have two vans crisscrossing the island. But beware: if you want to do a breathalyzer test, we may well drive you to the nearest police station, where one device needs to be. There are also breath tests in our patrol vehicles. All you need is a 12V cigarette lighter on board to provide recharge to the batteries.
10) Is there any sobering cell in Mauritius or do they land directly to the dungeon if they are drunk?
If you are tested positive for alcohol, you are asked to contact a “responsible party” that will be able to come and collect you and your vehicle. Otherwise, we take you in a cell, where they guard you until dawn, the time that you find your minds …
11) Finally, the device used to make a breathalyzer test is infallible? Has the device wrongly indicated a test?
As I have said, the results of the breathalyzer are preliminary. There are blood and urine tests that follow. And I do not think, in this case, these results can then be erroneous.
The different types of breathalysers
Electronic: a current is created when the presence of alcohol molecules in the breath is relatively large. Also, the intensity of the current is related to the amount of alcohol in the exhaled air. The semiconductor then allows the passage of generated current to a microprocessor which evaluates it and converts it into a readable measurement on the dial.
Chemical: it operates on the principle of redox which takes place between potassium dichromate, sulfuric acid and ethanol. It is therefore a concrete application of organic chemistry. Indeed, cotton staining is observed in green / blue at the end of the reaction. For example, ethanol and potassium dichromate reacted together: the test is positive.
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