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The return of alchoblow

Motorists who drink and drive should stand warned after President Kenyatta signed the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2021 into law.

The bill allows the re-introduction of alchoblow operations on motorists.

The reintroductions come as Government Spokesperson Colonel (retired) Cyrus Oguna revealed that by June 27, 2022, more than 2,200 lives had been lost through road crashes.

He added that this was an increase of 10.5 percent as compared to 2,057 deaths on the same date in 2021.

“Pedestrians continue to be the most vulnerable group of road users, with 816 of them having died as of June 25, 2022. This translates into a 20 percent increase compared to the 681 who died in the same period last year,” he said.

The new piece of legislation signed recommends a fine not exceeding Sh100,000, a two-year prison term, or both for drivers found guilty of drunk driving.

“A person who, when driving or attempting to drive, or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place is under the influence of an alcoholic drink or a drug beyond the prescribed limits, shall be guilty of an offense,” the new law reads in part.

Per the breathalyzer scale, a driver is allowed to drive if their alcohol level ranges between zero and 0.29 on the calibrator.

Drivers of public service vehicles are entirely prohibited from driving after drinking, and their test results should read zero. Private motorists are allowed up to 0.35 micrograms of intoxication.

A breathalyzer is an electronic device used to estimate the blood alcohol content (BAC) from a breath sample.

Drivers are prohibited from handling a vehicle if they have consumed alcohol in excess of 35 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath, 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, and 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of urine.

The National Assembly passed the Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2021 before they adjourned on June 9th. The new law is an improvement on the Traffic Act of 2013 after the Appeals Court in 2017 declared the use of breathalyzers to test and arrest drunk drivers illegal.

The three-judge bench ruled that the laws introduced by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) in regards to the use of alcoblow on Kenyan roads were inconsistent with the Traffic Act.

Police are waiting for the law to be published in the Kenya gazette before enforcing it.