Hunting down drink drivers: On patrol with the traffic police

Hunting down drink drivers: On patrol with the traffic police

Channel NewsAsia's Lim Jia Qi joined an anti-drink driving operation at Clemenceau Avenue in the wee hours of Thursday morning where Traffic Police were carrying out checks on potential drink drivers.

A woman waiting to get her alcohol level checked

SINGAPORE: It was 1am on Thursday (Oct 20) morning, and while many people were already tucked up in bed, others were still on their way home after a night of mid-week partying. A steady stream of taxis and cars was seen turning out of Clarke Quay, a popular nightspot in town.

For those traveling along Clemenceau Avenue, their smooth journey home was being interrupted. The police were carrying out an anti-drink driving operation just opposite Haw Par Centre to try to catch those drivers who had been partying too hard.

police drink driving exercise

Police conducting anti-drink driving operation along Clemenceau Avenue on Thursday morning.

The night sky was filled with flashing red and blue lights which caught on the officers' reflective vests as they waited by the roadside to speak to drivers and look for signs of intoxication.

“Good morning sir. We are going to check your breath for alcohol. Could you count from 1 to 10?”

That was a common question Sergeant Afiq asked drivers who were stopped at the roadblock. Most of them seemed to know they had to go through a simple breath test and willingly wound down their window to oblige. Counting one to ten slowly while a device took an initial reading took less than a minute - unless the test was positive.

sergeant afiq conducting test

Sergeant Afiq would ask drivers to count from one to ten for a simple breathalyser test.

At around half past one, attention turned to the female driver of a silver Toyota.

“1, 2, 3...,” she counted as Sergeant Afiq held the breathalyser close to her mouth. She looked sober with no signs of intoxication and completed the test calmly. But the screen on the breathalyser told a different story: It turned red, indicating that she had consumed alcohol.

Sergeant Afiq immediately blew his whistle to alert his colleagues. After checking her driving licence, the woman was asked to park her car at one side of the road. Still, she remained cool and calm. She made her way to a desk where she had to blow directly into a handheld breathalyser. Again, the test indicated she had been drinking.

An officer administering a breathalyser test on a female driver

An officer administering a breathalyser test.

She was then taken to a mobile test centre, which is a police vehicle fitted with a sophisticated Breath Evidential Analyser. The device allows the police to capture precise breath-alcohol readings on the spot. After 15 minutes, the woman came out of the vehicle and she was arrested. The reading was not disclosed, but she had likely exceeded the prescribed legal limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

BEA mobile centre

The Mobile Breath Evidential Analyser (BEA) test centre allows the police to capture breath-alcohol readings on the spot.

The woman was among the 18 drivers who were arrested for drink-driving in an island-wide operation conducted on Thursday. A total number of 77 drivers were stopped and tested for alcohol consumption at various road blocks set up across Singapore. The operation came amid a drop in the number of people arrested for drink-driving in the first six months of this year.

Those who were arrested could be fined between S$1,000 and S$30,000 and jailed for up to three years as well as have their driving licences disqualified for 12 to 48 months.

Back at Clemenceau Avenue, the operation continued. While most drivers faced a slight inconvenience, those who failed the test could be living with the consequences for a long time.

Source: CNA/jq