Court says Police breathalyser test faulty

Thursday, 6 May 2021 00:14 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Reduces suspended license of suspected drunk driver by 4 months 

By T. Farook Thajudeen

The Mount Lavinia Magistrate observed that the breathalyser test conducted by Mount Lavinia Traffic Police was faulty and did not properly conform to the Motor Traffic Act and reduced a driving license suspension by four months.

Hence the six month suspended term of the suspect’s driving license was reduced to two months following the application made by Senior Counsel Ian Fernando who appeared with Geethma Perera and Ushira Dharmaratne on behalf of the suspect.

The Counsel submitted that the law related to drunken driving states that if a suspect exceeds 0.8 % (80 mg/dl or more) concentration of alcohol in his blood, the suspect shall be charged under section 151 of the Motor Traffic Act. However, in this particular case, the suspect, who was an employee attached to a pharmaceutical distribution company, has celebrated his promotion as the newly-appointed Territory Executive on 1 April after receiving his promotion letter.

It was said that the suspect’s immediate boss, along with few other colleagues, demanded a party at a leading hotel in Wellawatte. After the said celebratory party, Police had apprehended the suspect 50 metres away from the hotel.

Counsel Ian Fernando contended that the suspect was not a habitual drunkard and had consumed a bottle of beer at the request of his immediate boss. The Counsel further revealed that the license was an essential component for the suspect to indulge in the distribution of vital and paramount pharmaceutical drugs throughout the country in areas like Wattala, Katunayake, Kurana, Katana, Naththandiya, Kiribathgoda, Gampaha and Kurunegala.

The Counsel stated, producing the suspect’s sales records in courts, and an affidavit from the suspect stating that due to the anxiety and the stress the suspect underwent when he was apprehended by the Police, who went ahead with the breathalyser test even though the average requirements, such as washing the mouth before undergoing the test, ensuring that the seal of breathalyser test kit be opened in the presence of the suspect, ensuring that the test is conducted in a non-toxic area, and that the breathalyser balloon be blown by the suspect within 15 seconds were not followed by the Police.

As a result of the aforesaid improperly conducted breathalyser test, it was termed that the suspect’s blood alcohol content surpassed the limit of 0.8 % (80 mg/dl or more) concentration. The suspect further pleaded in his affidavit that the standard six month period of suspension of his driving license be drastically reduced to save his job as a pharmaceutical distributor.

The Court, after having considered all the documents tendered by the suspect’s counsel, ordered the suspect to pay a fine of Rs. 25,000, and reduced the standard six month driving license suspension to a term of two months upon the application made by Counsel Ian Fernando.