‘No equipment’ to test alleged drunk driver after hit

2010-05-19 00:00

A DRIVER has allegedly escaped charges of driving under the influence of alcohol after police refused to conduct a breathalyser test on him when he was involved in an accident on Monday afternoon.

The Witness understands that the man, whose name is known to the paper, was not officially tested to determine the amount of alcohol in his blood, despite insistence on the test by Esme Klynsmith, the wife of Andre Klynsmith, the motorcyclist who was hit by the driver.

Andre Klynsmith sustained a concussion when his motorbike was knocked from behind at a red robot on the corner of New Scotland and College roads in Pelham at about 5.30 pm.

“While I was at the scene I could smell alcohol from the [driver] … That was when I suggested to the police who were at the scene that they should do the breathalyser testing on him,” said Esme Klynsmith, a city accountant.

She said she had to get a friend, a traffic officer who was off duty, to do the testing, which established that the man was three times over the legal limit for alcohol.

She said she arrived at the scene after her husband had been taken to Edendale Hospital, adding that officers ignored numerous pleas to have the driver tested.

“Instead of listening to me, they just spoke to the guy in your language … I don’t know whether it was Zulu or Xhosa. I even demanded that they speak in English so that I could hear what they were saying. But they just kept on speaking in an African language,” she added.

As she insisted that the man was drunk, one of the police officers finally told her that they did not have the equipment to conduct the test.

“Then I asked the police officers if it was allowed for me to buy the breathalyser and give it to them to test the man, but they just ignored me.”

She said that more than an hour later she decided to call a friend, who works for the Road Traffic Inspectorate.

“My friend came, although he was off duty. “He conducted a breathalyser test,” she added, and found that the man had a breath-alcohol three times over the legal limit of 0,24 mg/litre.

“My friend told me that his test would not stick in court because he was off duty when he did the test.”

Klynsmith’s friend confirmed that he did the testing. He asked to remain anonymous for fear of intimidation.

“Although the reading showed that he was three times over the limit, my machine is not evidential in court because it is something that you could also buy from a pharmacy.

“I requested that the police do the official test, but they said they could not do that because it was already over two hours after the accident,” said the friend.

Police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the matter will be investigated once the Klynsmiths file a formal complaint.

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