BANGKOK — The commander of Bangkok's police force lashed out at volunteer traffic cops who asked him to take a breathalyzer test even after he insisted he was not drunk.
Pol.Lt.Gen. Sriwarah Rangsipramkul described the incident to reporters this morning, and said he has now ordered his subordinates to improve the "quality" of traffic officers.
"Recently I passed through a drunk-driving checkpoint. I rolled down my window and told them I hadn’t drunk any alcohol, but the [police] volunteers said, 'you have to take the breathalyzer test,'" Pol.Lt.Gen. Sriwarah recounted. "I told them no five times, but the volunteers wouldn't give in."
Pol.Lt.Gen. Sriwarah said he was off-duty at the time and not wearing a uniform.
"If those volunteers were quality people, and had some wits, they would have realized that I didn't smell of any alcohol. Eventually, I had to tell them who I was and get out of my car and criticize them."
Pol.Lt.Gen. Sriwarah said he later encountered another checkpoint in front of the Criminal Court where police volunteers also insisted he take a breathalyzer test.
He said the incident prompted him to order police officers "to only select quality volunteers for traffic works, so that the people won't be affected."
The maximum penalty for driving under influence in Thailand is one year in prison, a 20,000 baht fine, and the revocation of the driver's license. Refusing to take breathalyzer test also carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
According to data compiled by authorities, drunk-driving was the most common cause of the more than 3,000 road accidents that took place during Thai New Year holidays in April this year.
Last month, police allowed a Thai-British actress, Anna Hambawaris, to leave without taking a breathalyzer test after she crashed her car into a police vehicle and killed the officer who was sleeping inside. The incident has drawn criticism from those who believe police gave the actress privileged treatment.