PM dismisses Minister after failing to take breathalyser test

The Prime Minister’s decisive action came hours after Partap’s detention for not taking a breathalyser test.

A short statement from the Prime Minister’s office was sent out last night, stating:

“I have decided to advise the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency Prof George Maxwell Richards, to revoke the appointment of Minister Collin Partap with immediate effect.

“This decision was made subsequent to reports received from the Ministry of National Security and Mr Collin Partap.”

Police attached to the Belmont Police Station earlier yesterday confirmed that just after 5 a.m., Partap was initially stopped by officers for activating a police-issued blue swivel light and for turning on an emergency siren in the vehicle.

Police sources say officers had noticed him with a bottle of alcohol in his hand before he got into the driver’s seat and subsequently stopped him at the corner of Keate and Frederick Streets, Port of Spain, where he was asked to take a breathalyser test.

Police say Partap refused and was detained and taken, just after 6 a.m., to the Belmont Police Station, where he made contact with his lawyer and made another call. At this point, they say, Partap was still adamant that the test not be administered.

Police officers say they were then surprised to see acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams arrive at the station within the hour, but it was only then that Partap submitted to the test. As a consequence, the test was taken more than an hour after he was detained. Partap was subsequently found to be within the legal limit.

Williams, in a telephone interview yesterday, confirmed he “stepped in to take charge of the situation involving Minister Partap”.

“It was imperative for me to assume direct leadership, and the matter was addressed. I am preparing an official report for the Minister of National Security on the matter,” he said.

When asked about the police lights and siren on the Government-issued vehicle, licensed PCM 1016, Williams said the officers did not tell him anything about that. Williams said all non-emergency service vehicles can only be granted those amenities through the Commissioner of Transport, Reuben Cato.

“Lights on a vehicle have to be authorised, but there are restrictions for it and more restrictions for the siren, but again, I have not been informed of that in this case,” he said.

In response to questions, National Security Minister Jack Warner issued a press statement, saying that at approximately 6 a.m. yesterday, he received a call from the acting Commissioner of Police, informing him that Partap was at the Belmont Police Station, where he was being asked to take a breathalyser test.

“I informed the DCP that I was in church and would call after my morning service had ended. I did so at about 7 a.m. and was advised that breathalyser tests were conducted on Minister Partap and the results showed he was within the legal limit and that a report would be filed with me on the entire matter.

“The acting Commissioner confirmed the advice which had been given to me. I await his report before making any further comment on the matter. I thank the acting Commissioner. I await his report before making any further comment on the matter,” he said.

According to the amendment of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, under Section 70 (B), it states inter alia that where a constable has reasonable cause to suspect that a person driving or attempting to drive or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place has alcohol in his breath or blood exceeding the prescribed limit, he may require him to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test at or near the place where the requirement is made. The law says where a person, without reasonable excuse, fails to provide a specimen of breath, he is guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine of $8,000 or to imprisonment for three years.

The law states that any person who fails to undergo the test is liable to prosecution. It also states that two separate breath specimens be provided and “there must be an interval of not less than two minutes and not more than ten minutes between the provision of specimens”.

Several attempts to reach Partap proved futile and while he did text to say he would return the calls, up to press time, he did not.

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