Refuse breathalyser, go to jail

Refuse breathalyser, go to jail

A new law came into effect on Feb 1: Drivers have the right to refuse to blow into the breathalyser, but police have the right to immediately arrest them for refusing, on suspicion of drink-driving. (File photo by Apichart Jinakul)
A new law came into effect on Feb 1: Drivers have the right to refuse to blow into the breathalyser, but police have the right to immediately arrest them for refusing, on suspicion of drink-driving. (File photo by Apichart Jinakul)

A Nakhon Phanom woman became the first person to face prosecution under a tough new drink-driving law for refusing to take a breathalyser test when she was stopped by Bang Pong Pang police in Bangkok Wednesday.

Chutima Kunnang, 28, a vendor from the northeastern province, was stopped at a police checkpoint on Narathiwat-Ratchanakarin Road.

Police demanded she take a breathalyser test after they smelled alcohol when she opened her car window.

She refused to take the test and was promptly arrested.

Before the new law came into effect on Dec 31 last year, police were not expected to force drivers to take a breathalyser tests if they refused.

Ms Chutima is the first to be prosecuted for refusing the test under the law, police say.

Section 43 (2) of the amended Traffic Act says a driver who refuses to co-operate with police officers will be assumed drunk and can be arrested if they refuse a breathalyser test.

The penalty for refusing to take the test is a jail term of up to one year and a fine from 10,000 baht to 20,000 baht, or both.

Police said the woman did not have a driving licence or ID card on her, and refused to get out of the car when asked.

She was stopped at the checkpoint at 2am, but it took until 6am before police could convince her to leave the vehicle.

Ms Chutima allegedly told police that she had a drink with friends before getting behind the wheel of her white Brio Honda and felt she could control the vehicle.

She told them she did not want to get out of the vehicle because she was wearing inappropriate clothing and said she had left her driving licence and ID card in another handbag.

Pol Lt Rattakorn Oathjedtha, a deputy chief of traffic police at the station, said Ms Chutima was initially charged with driving a vehicle while drunk, failing to co-operate with police and failing to produce her driving licence and ID card.

After her arrest, she was released on 20,000 baht bail.

She will be charged in court Thursday.


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