Two male residents of the Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), were on Wednesday fined $30,000 each after they pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Dwayne Thompson of Charity River Dam, Essequibo Coast, and Junior Norton of Reliance, Essequibo Coast appeared at the Anna Regina Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Esther Sam, where the charges were read to them.
Thompson committed the act on March 2 along the Anna Regina Public Road, while Norton was stopped by the Police on February 24 along the Reliance Public Road, Essequibo Coast. Both men were driving while their alcohol consumption was above the legal limit.
After entering their plea, the magistrate imposed on each of them a fine of $30,000, with an alternative of one month’s imprisonment. The licence of each of them was also endorsed.
In a bid to ensure safer roadways, draft amendments to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act as well as the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill were approved by Cabinet in March of this year, with a view to toughening up the penalties for drunk drivers and the bars that serve them.
The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act sought to amend the principal act and put in place a new Section, 35A. This new Section makes causing the death of someone through drunk driving a case of vehicular manslaughter.
The draft Bill also amends Section 39A of the principal act – the penalty for driving while over the alcohol limit – replacing the $7500 fine with $200,000, and the sentence of 12 months with 24 months.
It has also been proposed in March that the penalty for driving under the influence and losing control of your vehicle be increased from its current $30,000 to $60,000 fine/imprisonment for 12 months to $200,000 for first-time offenders and $300,000 for second-time offenders.
Also passed during Monday’s sitting was the Suicide Prevention Bill 2022, which contains measures such as a National Suicide Prevention Commission to advise the Minister of Human Services and Social Security on legislation and regulations surrounding suicide prevention and mental health support.
The commission will also be responsible for the preparation of a National Suicide Prevention Plan, and the planning, design and implementation of public programmes to reduce suicides and suicide attempts in the country. It also has to carry out sensitisation and awareness training on suicide and suicide prevention, and establish Suicide Prevention Centres across Guyana.
The Restorative Justice Bill 2022 was also passed, paving the way for the establishment of a body that would administer the new Act, as well as educate the country and its citizens on the relatively new concept of restorative justice in the justice system.
The Restorative Justice Bill will give more prominence to the cases of victims of criminal offences and offenders, and accentuate the injury it has caused to the persons involved, rather than the violation of the law.