Drive drunk, lose licence

2010-04-01 00:00

DRIVE drunk and lose your licence.

Launching the 2010 Easter road safety campaign at uMdloti on the north coast yesterday, KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Willies Mchunu said the technical committee advising the KZN justice cluster has proposed an amendment to this effect to the National Road Traffic Act of 1996.

Mchunu said the committee, which he formed in December, also recommends breath testing for drunk driving suspects, “effectively leaving behind blood testing and all its attendant problems”.

He said he will lobby extensively to have the relevant amendments ready for the 2010 year-end holiday season, and believes he already has the support of the Western Cape traffic authorities.

In the meantime, traffic officers have been instructed to be relentless in their pursuit of drunken drivers.

Mchunu also opened the Alcohol Evidence Centre, the second in the province. South African Breweries has donated Drager Alcotest breathalysers and a closed-circuit television network to monitor the testing process.

The breathalyser machines are able to take an instant and accurate reading of the amount of alcohol in an individual’s breath by sampling deep lung air and this can be used as evidence to secure a conviction for drunk driving.

The new system is expected to be used regularly during roadblocks around the province.

Mchunu voiced his anger over what he described as “the continuing of breaking of the law with arrogance”, which he said “seems to derive from the knowledge by these law breakers that they will be fined and not jailed. After paying their fines, they will continue to drive their cars freely …

Mchunu said research indicates that an estimated 50% of people who die on South African roads have a blood alcohol level of above 0,05 g per 100 ml, which is the maximum legal blood-alcohol limit for private vehicle drivers, while for drivers of public transport it is 0,02 g.

The spokeswoman for South Africans Against Drunk Drivers (SADD), Caro Smit, said of the new proposal: “SADD has been asking for the automatic removal of licences of all convicted drunk drivers for the past five years. We welcome this move.”

Gary Ronald of the Automobile Association said: “We firmly support the proposed amendment, simply because if we look at evidence from research done by the Medical Research Council and Unisa, it is clear that alcohol has a part in the deaths of over 40% of drivers who die in road accidents …

During the Easter holidays all traffic officers will be on duty and there will be roadblocks throughout KZN.

Said Mchunu,“In these roadblocks, we will give our motorists full service by prosecuting for seat belts … roadworthiness, driver’s licences, number plates, discs, drugs, alcohol, tax and Home Affairs-related offences.”

Other measures include a traffic patrol vehicle every 20 km and traffic law enforcement vehicles with blue lights patrolling; a call on motorists to drive with headlamps on during the day; and a call on pedestrians not to cross national roads.

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