14 Nov 2013

French Polynesia road safety boss in drink-driving incident

5:36 pm on 14 November 2013

The man in charge of road safety in French Polynesia has crashed his car while under the influence of alcohol.

Bruno Marty, whose ministerial portfolio includes transport, ended up in hospital after running off the road on Friday night.

He offered his resignation, but the president, Gaston Flosse, has so far not accepted it and downplayed the incident.

Mr Flosse described the accident as 'normal' given that Mr Marty had worked up to 18 hours a day and didn't have a driver.

The opposition however says Mr Marty has to be sacked because he failed to make the right choice between drinking or driving.

"The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, says the full story is yet to be told."

ALEX DU PREL: He had been at a dinner where there was quite a lot of drinks being consumed. And we heard Mr Flosse wanted to see how many grams of alcohol per litre he had before taking the decision. He's the minister of transportation and of road safety, and last week he had a big meeting where they were preparing to revise the road code. And he was very, very severe on anybody caught having a certain amount of alcohol, you know, [while] driving a car. The funny thing is we had Mr Fritch say 'Oh, come on. Everybody makes little mistakes. It's nothing much'. The other big question is, did he crash in a government car? Are we paying for it or is it a private car? We don't have that answer, either.

WALTER ZWEIFEL: With Mr Marty resigning or offering his resignation, but then apparently being retained, why is he so significant to the Flosse government that the president won't accept his resignation?

ADP: Number one, I don't think there are too many able candidates. Mr Marty was an exception because he's a contractor so he's coming from the civilian side of society, while all our other ministers are all public employees. We'll see what happens, but if he stays it's not going to save the country, if he leaves it's not going to kill the country.

WZ: In terms of the law, if he's found drunk or above the level that's permitted to drive, what is the consequence? Is this going to result in a criminal conviction?

ADP: What happens, you're not allowed to drive. They suspend your drivers licence for six months, a year, a year and a half, and then you get a fine, too. You have to go to court. If they put everyone in jail who is drunk-driving in Tahiti we'd have half the population in jail.