Cuenca’s transportation authorities have a warning for holiday party goers: If you’re caught driving drunk you go to jail.
Last weekend, 48 drivers were sent to the city’s driving jail, more than double the number of a typical weekend. “Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean it’s okay to drink and drive,” says Cristian Álvarez, who heads of a drunk driving task force. “We are setting up more check points in the city and if we catch you, we will send you directly to jail.”
According to Álvarez, the percentage of people driving drunk increases during the holiday period. “There are more parties, the bars and restaurants are full, and many people are drinking. This is fine but if you drink and then drive, you are breaking the law. The rate of accidents involving alcohol increases by almost 50% during Christmas.”
Among those arrested Saturday night at a check point on Av. Ricardo Muñoz, were two North American residents, police said. According to officers, one of the men, a U.S. citizen, became angry and had to be restrained before he was transported to jail. Police say the man, identified as Gary Matthew W. will spend 45 days in jail for drunkenness and resisting arrest.
According to Ecuador criminal code, drivers caught with blood alcohol levels (BAC) of more than 0.03 pay a $375 fine, lose five points on their driver’s license, and spend five days in jail. Those arrested with BAC levels above .12, pay $1,125 and go to jail for 30 days.
The cars of those arrested for drunk driving are sent to a city impounding yard.