Concerns over the risk of spreading coronavirus through alcoblow forced the government to make a last-minute about-turn that saw the gadgets fail to make their dreaded return to Kenyan roads.
The gadgets were pulled off the roads in December last year on concerns that police officers had made them money-minting machines, and since then police officers have struggled to pin down drink-driving suspects.
Although the closure of bars since March has for the last six months largely kept drunk drivers off the roads, it took just one weekend of open season and flowing beer for the authorities notice a spike in road accidents.
More than 60 people lost their lives on the first weekend of the return of Kenya’s rich — but oftentimes carefree — night life. Consequently, last Friday the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the National Police Service warned that the breathalysers would be reintroduced.
Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai now says alcohol tests will be random for all drivers going forward, “mainly because there has been a rise in the number of fatal accidents related to drink-driving”.
“Alcohol levels in the bloodstream will be determined by doctors in hospitals under strict Covid-19 rules,” said the IG.
The IG’s turnaround on the matter is because health officials have raised an alarm on the risk of having several people blow into a single gadget in order to ascertain whether they are drunk.
The Ministry of Health had questioned how the police would measure whether someone is drunk in the coronavirus era by making them breathe into a common gadget without risking the spread of Covid-19.
Additionally, with the holding of people in cells currently disallowed, police would struggle to safely hold suspects until they are arraigned.