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Issyk Kul: Drivers Indignant At Exaggerated Readings of Alcohol Testers

Some car owners have complained that on the trunk road to the main touristic zone patrol police officers extort money for alleged alcohol content in the body, although some drivers said they didn’t drink any alcohol. The patrol police department of the Directorate of Internal Affairs for Issyk Kul oblast performs internal investigation following these complaints.

In social media drivers complain about the unfair practices of some officers responsible for road safety in the resort town of Cholpon Ata and on the trunk road to Balykchy.

One of them reports that on August 11 he was stopped by a patrol police officer at Cholpon Ata and was breathalysed. According to him, he hadn’t drunk alcohol for a week; however, the alcohol tester showed 0.88 mg/L of alcohol.

According to the norms, in Kyrgyzstan the blood alcohol content should not exceed 0.03‰.

“I insisted that we should go to the drug checkpoint to prove their reading wrong,” a driver, Sergei said. “When the officer saw I was confident, he started asking me weird questions like “Did you drink?”, “Didn’t you drink?”, “You drank anyway!”, and so on. After a short crosstalk, he returned my documents to me saying “Leave some tip”. I ignored his request and left.”

Other drivers tell about similar cases.

“I was stopped the same way when I was leaving Balykcny,” Stanislav Pak wrote on Facebook. “I didn’t drink during my vacation, but they gave me some dirty device that must have been used by many people. It showed 0.75 promille. I also said I would love to visit the drug checkpoint. So they gave my documents back and I left.”

One of drivers told cabar.asia that on August 11 he was stopped on the trunk road between Tamchy village and Balykchy town. Although he was not drunk, he gave 1000 som to avoid further dispute.

During the tourist season, officers from Bishkek and Chui oblast assist patrol police of Issyk Kul oblast. Photo: vb.kg
“Yesterday I drank only one jug of Arpa beer, so it must have disappeared, but the alcohol tester showed the level was exceeded as if I drank vodka,” a driver said to the journalist. “They said they would take me to the drug checkpoint and I should pay 20000 som if I don’t want to go with them. I didn’t have so much money, so I gave one thousand and left.”

The driver added that these officers stopped mainly expensive cars and offroaders.

Internal investigation

The patrol police department of the Directorate of Internal Affairs for Issyk Kul oblast reported that they knew about these complaints and now they investigate one case that took place in Cholpon Ata.

To find out which post committed violations and which officer was involved, the head of the patrol police department of the Directorate of Internal Affairs asks drivers to report locations where they were stopped, the dates and approximate time.

The head of patrol police department of the Directorate of Internal Affairs for Issyk Kul oblast, Azamat Israilov, said that the investigation was underway and it was hard to tell about those cases, and he reminded that the readings of alcohol testers were preliminary.

“Based on the readings of an alcohol tester, they [officers] cannot report an administrative offence,” Azamat Israilov said to cabar.asia . “The alcohol tester itself has no legal weight. In order to initiate administrative proceedings against a driver, or to hold him/her administratively liable, we need a doctor’s opinion.”

In Russian:

Why alcohol testers can lie?

Israilov noted that all alcohol testers used by officers on roads are certified and sealed. He suggested that either a device could fail or officers failed to set the tester to zero.

Thematic websites dedicated to the systems of determination of alcohol content in human bodies point out the weak sides of alcohol testers and their weak analysis of objective determination of alcohol-containing elements.

Patrol police of Issyk Kul oblast are equipped with 6 alcohol testers. Photo: alkotestery.ru
“An alcohol tester has a measuring element, which is more vulnerable than that used in alcoholmeters. The environment and even an excessive amount of various chemical impurities can negatively affect the precision of measurements,” as stated in the article on alkotestery.ru.

There are two types of alcohol testers: for infrequent use (“personal”) and special devices for multiple uses at small intervals, which can be used by officers on roads.

“An alcohol tester is perfect for personal use and as a safety net for drivers who pass through checkpoints and in between drinking periods,” the author of the article wrote.

In Russia, the road traffic police use alcoholmeters, which are considered to be more durable for mass checks and more accurate.

In Kyrgyzstan, alcoholmeters are not used due to their high price. Photo: alkotestery.ru
“An alcoholmeter is a more serious measuring device. In alcoholmeters, an electrochemical sensor is used, which is less susceptible to external factors. An alcoholmeter is a device that is used for expert check-up of drivers by State Traffic Safety Inspectorate officers,” according to alkotestery.ru.

However, alcoholmeters cost several times more expensive than alcohol testers. In Russian online shops one professional alcoholmeter costs 20,000 roubles and more, while alcohol testers cost 5 thousand roubles and more.

In Kyrgyzstan, not all patrol police posts are equipped with alcohol testers. There are only 6 of them in Issyk Kul oblast.

This May a member of Zhogorku Kenesh, Akylbek Zhaparov, initiated a draft law that obliged drivers to have personal alcohol testers. The point was to help drivers understand whether they could drive and to release the government from financial expenditures on procurement of special mobile alcohol measuring devices.

However, few people believe that drivers would buy alcohol testers. In Bishkek online shops, their prices start from one thousand som.

Nevertheless, many people agree that the authorities should take more measure to further safety on the roads of Kyrgyzstan.

The number of traffic accidents increases in recent years. Photo: reporter.akipress.org
In recent years, the number of road fatalities has increased due to the growing number of vehicles.

According to the General Directorate of Patrol Police, in the first six months of 2017, more than 2,500 road accidents were registered, which is 4.2 per cent more than in the same period of last year.

In these road accidents, 307 people, including 30 children, died.

However, it is obvious that the provision of road safety must not turn into business and cause problems for law-abiding drivers.

The head of patrol police department of the Directorate of Internal Affairs for Issyk Kul oblast, Azamat Israilov, said that his department understands the significance of creating favourable conditions for tourists and regularly holds preventive discussions with traffic officers regarding the inadmissibility of misconduct in office.

“We will carry out a secret investigation to find out how they work and use alcohol testers. We’ve never had such situation before. There are only ten days left until the end of the season, so we need to finish the season well, and we should do our best in these 10 days… This is an unpleasant moment for our senior officers, and we do our best to avoid this,” Azamat Israilov, head of patrol police department of the Directorate of Internal Affairs for Issyk Kul oblast, said.

Originally this article was published in Russian.

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