One drink is one too many

2011-12-17 13:01

It could have been a scene straight out of a TV advert warning against the dangers of drinking and driving.

Leaning into the back of a Johannesburg Metro Police Department van, an 11-year-old boy with tears in his eyes kissed his father goodbye, before the man was taken away to have his blood alcohol tested.

The man was one of 13 drivers charged with drinking and driving at a large roadblock in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, ahead of the long weekend on Thursday.

Said a Metro officer, shaking his head: “This time of year, even one drink is one drink too many.”

In their blinding colours, the officers began pulling vehicles over at 9pm, writing tickets for unroadworthy vehicles, brake lights that don’t work, overloading, driving without licences and even cracked windscreens.

Around the two Dräger breathalysers – used to determine whether a motorist should be sent to have a blood sample taken – emotions ranged from panic to disbelief.

One smartly-dressed businessman driving a luxury German sedan bluntly refused to be breathalysed.

He explained, somewhat confusingly: “You can arrest me but I’m not going to be breathalysed. I’ve been arrested before and I’m not going to be a victim again.”

After 15 minutes of trying to coax him into taking the test, he was arrested. “The talk show is over,” said an officer.

Another driver, also in a luxury German sedan, went straight for a bribe.

“Howzit, my brother? Do you want a suit? I’ve got a dry-cleaning business. I’ve got a coffee shop, come and have a cappuccino.”

The passenger in the “Howzit my brother?” sedan stood next to him, wallet clutched in his hands behind his back.

“I don’t drink cappuccino,” said the Metro officer dryly, before leading the man away to be breathalysed.

He came in under the limit and thanked the Metro officers profusely for their good work.

Most drivers who test above the legal limit of 0.24 are stunned into a kind of shocked silence.

It is often their family members who react with fury.

The mother of the 11-year-old boy screamed: “This is bloody pathetic! From here I can see half these people are boozers. Why aren’t they being pulled over?”

A metro officer laughed at her.

Officer Clifford Makedi pulled over about 30 vehicles in the course of the night.

Most fines given were minor but he considers the roadblock worthwhile – he stopped two women with an unsecured six-month-old baby in the front seat.

“Enjoy your shopping,” the passenger of a passing vehicle screamed.

Said Makedi: “Verbal abuse is your daily bread – you get used to it.”


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