x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Police warn drivers over New Year drink-driving

Abu Dhabi Police will be extra vigilant this year around hotels and bars in an attempt to apprehend drink-drivers.

The UAE has a strict zero-tolerance policy to driving under the influence of alcohol. Police in Abu Dhabi have warned motorists and revellers against drink drinking over the New Year holiday as it is a criminal offence in the country.
The UAE has a strict zero-tolerance policy to driving under the influence of alcohol. Police in Abu Dhabi have warned motorists and revellers against drink drinking over the New Year holiday as it is a criminal offence in the country.

ABU DHABI // Police will increase traffic patrols across the city to deter New Year revellers from driving after consuming alcohol.

Officers will be especially vigilant around hotels and nightclubs where alcohol is served, said Brig Eng Hussain Al Harthei, head of the Traffic and Patrols Directorate.

The UAE has a strict zero-tolerance policy to driving while intoxicated and drink driving is a criminal offence.

“There is an increase in the number of foreigners who come to the country either to start a new life or for tourism. This causes an increase in people drinking alcohol,” he said.

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Click here for an interactive of drink driving statistics in the UAE

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“Not many of them know of our laws, culture and traditions. The law does not allow one to drive while under the influence, as they are not only risking their lives but also the lives of others.

“We do not consider it a traffic violation but a criminal case and it is referred to the public prosecution.”

Police officers have had special training to judge if a driver is showing signs of having consumed alcohol.

“If the police officer was dubious about the driver’s actions, he will give them a breath test to find out whether he had been drinking,” said Brig Al Harthei.

“If indeed the driver has been drinking, he is taken into custody for 48 hours, and questioned after he has gained his senses. We cannot take any testimonies if he is unconscious.”

After 48 hours, the driver will be required to give blood and urine samples to see if there are traces of any intoxicants. He is then referred to the public prosecution, which will examine the driver’s criminal history and demand a penalty from the courts according to the severity of the crime.

Brig Al Harthei said even though there had been numerous campaigns about the issue, many people ignored the warnings and continued to risk their lives by driving under the influence.

“There are always campaigns, especially on social media,” he said. “Every time we see an increase in any issue, we start an awareness and regulation campaign.”

The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are 24 black points on a driver’s licence, a jail sentence from one to six months and a fine up to Dh20,000.

Brig Al Harthei hoped these stiff penalties would deter potential offenders.

“Many will be convinced of the law, they will know the risks and will fear the penalty,” he said. “It is important drivers know about such a crime and how to not commit it.

“If a driver knows he is unable to operate a vehicle, either by consuming alcohol or even medication, he should stay away for his own safety.”

aalkhoori@thenational.ae