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Transport PS defends use of Alcoblow

The government has defended the use of the breathalyser to curb drunk driving and wants a case challenging it dismissed.

Transport Principal Secretary Nduva Muli said the use of Alcoblow was within the law and dismissed claims that it was a breach of drivers’ right to dignity.

Mr Muli said any drunk driver could not be said to be giving self-incriminating evidence by undergoing the Alcoblow test since they were presumed innocent until it was proved that they consumed excess alcohol beyond the limit set in the Traffic Act.

“Allegations that rules have been enacted to legitimise the usage of means of obtaining evidence that fly in the face of the Bill of Rights are therefore wild, unfounded and outlandish,” said Mr Muli. 

He dismissed claims that the gadget posed health risk to drivers, saying the breathalysers were approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Police use a sealed disposable mouthpiece that is only opened by the driver, he stated. 

Mr Muli said those challenging the use of the breathalyser had not provided any evidence to show that police were reusing the mouthpiece.

“There has been a significant decrease in road carnage since the Alcoblow was introduced on the roads. Those claiming their rights are being violated are not being sincere,” said Mr Muli .

Traffic commandant Samuel Kimaru supported the submissions, saying traffic rules prohibited driving under the influence of alcohol. 

He said failure to table the new rules before Parliament did not invalidate the minister’s power to order the use of the Alcoblow.

“The petitioner’s claims that there was no public participation in enacting the new rules are unfounded since all stakeholders were consulted before a taskforce recommended the introduction of the breathalyser,” said Mr Kimaru, explaining that the Act allowed traffic police officers to take specimen of any driver they suspected to have taken alcohol.

Although the law allowed officers to take either blood or urine samples, he added, they opted for the breath, which gives immediate results, which cannot be manipulated.

National Transport and Safety Authority boss Francis Meja also defended the use of the breathalysers, saying they were being used strictly in accordance with the law.

“Police only do it when they sense the driver has committed an offence or when they have reasonable doubt as to the amount of alcohol consumed by the driver,” said Mr Meja.

The petition was filed by Mr Richard Dickson Ogendo, who argued that continued use of the breathalyser was a breach of drivers’ right to dignity and should be declared unconstitutional.