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Tag: Drunk Driving

Twenty-four alleged drunk drivers caught in Ekurhuleni

Twenty-four alleged drunk drivers spent Saturday night behind bars after being arrested in Ekurhuleni in Gauteng.

The motorists were caught in the Kempton Park area during a drunk-driving operation. Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) spokesperson, Kobeli Mokheseng said the OR Tambo International Airport precinct officers arrested 24 intoxicated drivers at a roadblock.

“During the set-up, all government-stipulated Covid-19 protocols were applied. The intersection of CR Swart and Pretoria was flooded with EMPD members between 18:00 and 03:00, where 22 male drivers and two female motorists failed the onsite sobriety test after portable breathalyzers were used.

“The lawbreakers were arrested for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol, with possible reckless and negligent driving. They were taken to the Kempton Park police station after blood was drawn from their arms by a professional medical practitioner,” said Mokheseng.

They are expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court soon.

What is drunk driving? It is the offence of steering or operating a motor vehicle, under the influence of alcohol or any drugs. For many, it is to a level where the individuals are not fully capable of controlling the car. Drunk driving is responsible for a large number of traffic accidents, which have led to unnecessary loss of life.

South Africa ranks 6th globally in terms of the high consumption of alcohol per drinker. This ranking is a rise from its 11th place in 2010. Any amount of alcohol in the body has been seen to impair navigation. When one exceeds the 0.05g/dl limit, it increases the risk of road accidents. In South Africa, new and strict policy proposals are being put forward to curb the menace.

The legal alcohol driving limit must be less than 0.05 grams per every 100 millilitres of blood for normal drivers and less than 0.2 grams per every 100 millilitres in case of professional drivers. Crime statistics report 2018/2019 released by the South African Police Service in late 2019, showed that the high rate of drunk driving had decreased by 3.8% compared to the 2017/2018 report.

Drunk Driving Amendments will result in CHAOS

The Automobile Association (AA) said that the proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act to reduce the legal blood alcohol limits for drivers to zero will criminalise innocent motorists, and is unlikely to have the results authorities think it will.

The bill includes an amendment of Section 65 which effectively changes the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers from 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres to 0.00g/100ml, and the breath alcohol concentration from 0.24g/1,000ml also to zero.

“These proposed changes are concerning on a number of levels and although the stated reason for the change is the promotion of road safety, within the current framework of traffic law enforcement, nothing will change, except that innocent drivers are likely to be criminalised. For instance, someone who is using medication which contains alcohol will now be arrested, charged and possibly prosecuted for having a small dose of alcohol in their blood while their driving ability has not been impaired,” the AA said.

According to the Association, the proposed amendment will make motorists easy targets for traffic law enforcers, and that the desired outcomes of improved road safety will not be met. “How will traffic law enforcement change to accommodate this proposed amendment? And, perhaps more importantly, how will a single piece of legislation change driver’s attitudes when nothing else around traffic law enforcement changes at the same time? Without proper and implementable actions, we don’t believe the amendments relating to the alcohol levels will have a material impact on our abysmal road fatality statistics.”

Simply drafting legislation does not equate to meaningful road safety intervention and other more important steps must also be taken. This includes a more intense, widespread and constant focus on national road safety education, an increase in the number of traffic law enforcement officers, and improved prosecution of current drunk driver cases. Another important aspect is visible and active law enforcement around areas where drunk driving is frequently an issue.  Proper action must also be taken against offenders.

“We need to be in a situation where people are afraid to drive if they have been drinking, and we stand by our messaging of drink or drive. However, within this framework – and the interventions we have outlined – we believe a reduction of the BAC limit to 0.02g/100ml would be a more effective, just, and appropriate approach to drunk driving in the country.”

According to the AA motorists who drink and drive must assume they will be arrested because there are many alternatives available to those who want to drink and still be mobile. But legally reducing the BAC to zero is not the answer.

“We cannot have a situation where authorities are amending legislation in the hope that this will change our shocking crash statistics. The average of 13,000 deaths on our roads annually is a national crisis and amending this one piece of legislation is not going to make a difference unless those interventions we mention all the time are also implemented.”

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