Harsher consequences needed for drink drivers

2016-11-30 06:00
PHOTO: supplied Sadd protests outside the court with the Pillay family to highlight this unacceptable and preventable crime, and to support the family emotionally.

PHOTO: supplied Sadd protests outside the court with the Pillay family to highlight this unacceptable and preventable crime, and to support the family emotionally.

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FOUNDER and director of South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd), Caro Smit made a public appeal on Friday at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court when she joined with the Pillay family outside the courtroom calling for harsher consequences for people who drive under the influence of alcohol.

Smit is also a member of the Post-Crash Care Committee of the Global Alliance of NGOs Advocating for Road Safety and Road Victims.

“I ask that great attention is paid to make much-needed improvements to the vital post-crash response, which is the theme of World Day of Remembrance this year.

“Sadd asks for the application of an effective legal response to road deaths and injuries, for rights for the victims and not just the accused, for road crimes to be seen as the serious crimes they really are - that are costing our beautiful country too much in terms of losses to lives and happiness, for justice for the bereaved and injured victims and their families and for fair financial settlements and finally jail time if a death or severe injury has occurred, and automatic suspension of licenses in all drink driving cases.”

Smit, whose son Chas was killed by a drink driver in 2005, showed support for the Pillay family who mourned the death of their family members in 2012 after they were killed in a crash, allegedly by a drink driver.

“Barry and Tammy were killed on 16 December 2012, and their father Pastor Pillay, had to beg and plead to even get the case back on the roll after it had seemingly been ignored for so many years. He had asked for the accused to be charged for drink driving, but this was not done,” said Smit.

Smit said the court had not found sufficient evidence to present and charge the driver of the vehicle for driving under the influence.

“Blood or breath tests are no longer required for this. What is required is proof that the person was driving and that their driving was impaired by the alcohol. It is the alcohol that affects the driving. Even one unit affects driving skills that is why it is now internationally recognised as drink driving.

“An alcohol dependent person has a very high tolerance for alcohol, and does not look or act as impaired as a novice drinker would. It is therefore not important whether the person looks or acts drunk or not,” said Smit.

Sadd and the Pillay family were therefore outside the court last Friday to express their concern and call for the charge to be added.

“Sadd are extremely concerned that the accused was not charged with the main charge of ‘driving under the influence’. As an organisation we are trying to bring down SA’s unacceptably high drink driving and to assist victims of this preventable crime,” said Smit.

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