PMB tops for drunk arrests

2009-12-10 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG still holds the record for most drunk drivers in KwaZulu-Natal and figures are increasing since the launch of the Alcohol Evidence Centre. Seventy-seven motorists were arrested for drunken driving in the city between December 1 and 6.

South Africa’s first state-of-the-art Alcohol Evidence Centre, officially opened in October, has caught 175 drunk drivers, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Willies Mchunu, said at the launch of the 2009 festive season law enforcement plan.

In second place for most drunk drivers is the Empangeni region with nine offenders, followed by Durban with only one arrest.

Mchunu said law enforcement will be intensified on all roads during the festive season.

“Our festive season law enforcement plan can be summed up in just three words: arrest, remove and fine,” said Mchunu.

Drivers will be taken to the Alcohol Evidence Centre if they test positive at an initial screening for drinking. The process is monitored on closed-circuit television and information entered in a central database with the scanned breathalyser reading, resulting in no more lost readings. The central database will help identify repeat offenders.

Commenting on Mchunu’s announcement, Caro Smit of South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) said Pietermaritzburg has the most drunk drivers caught in KZN only because the local Road Traffic Inspectorate is “passionate about drunk driving, and so see this as a road safety priority”.

“SADD really does not think PMB has more drunk drivers than other towns. We just test more and thus catch more.”

Smit said that, as can be seen from the numbers o fpeople who are still being caught in the capital, the penalties and fines are not working as a deterrent.

“Our crash rate — and thus death and injury rate — continues to rise in SA every day. The only thing that will work is very frequent testing and proper penalties,” said Smith.

“Responsible driving generally comes about only because people are afraid of the legal and financial repercussions of their actions that is, heavy fines, suspended licences, Alcolocks, alcohol treatment, jail.”

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