Safeguard your life and those of other road users, stay sober

Driving under the influence can cost you time in prison, legal fees, fines, your job, your licence and possibly your life. If you decide to drink and drive, traffic officers are waiting for you. Make another plan, and don’t drink and drive. Let’s work together to make driving under the influence a thing of the past, he appealed to motorists.

This is the plea to motorists by Byron la Hoe, Provincial spokesperson for the department of transport and public works, when the evidentiary breath alcohol testing (EBAT), was reintroduced on Monday 1 August.

“Alcohol plays a causal role in a large proportion of fatal crashes in the Western Cape. Many motorists on the province’s roads continue to drink and drive despite repeated warnings by traffic authorities that alcohol and roads don’t mix. Drivers who continue to heedlessly risk their lives and the lives of other citizens, who destroy taxpayer-funded infrastructure, and who drag policing resources away from attending to other crimes are reminded that unlike blood alcohol testing, EBAT results and prosecution are immediate,” said Byron.

EBAT uses a machine which can read how much alcohol is in a person’s breath. It is called “evidentiary” because the reading can be used as evidence in the prosecution of offenders.

“In order for the information from an EBAT test to be admissible as evidence in a prosecution, the EBAT machine, the people who operate it, and the testing conditions must all meet a specific set of legal requirements. This means that persons suspected of driving under the influence who are below the legal limit can be released immediately,” Byron added.

Persons arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence may be detained for some time, often overnight or until the end of a weekend. Because of the long delays in obtaining the results of blood tests, such persons will then face a long period of legal uncertainty while the blood test is being processed, often six months or more.

“By contrast, because the results of an EBAT test are instant, the case can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. The immediate release of the innocent and the swift conclusion of cases for the guilty are the main reason why EBAT has serviced the interests with such distinction all over the world,” he said.

Provincial Traffic Services will continue to work around the clock to help create safer, booze-free roads. Traffic officers are out on the roads 24/7, ready to test drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, and arrest them if necessary, he added.

“Between the periods January 2016 until the weekend of 23 and 24 July, Provincial Traffic Services have made 779 DUI arrests. That’s an average of 108 DUI arrests per month. The most DUI arrests were recorded during weekends in April.

“The Department has spent many long hours with the National Prosecuting Authority and other role players to ensure that all the legal requirements are met to reintroduce EBAT equipment at our SHADOW (Safely Home Anti-drink Driving Operational War Room) Centre in Athlone. This will enable the swift processing and prosecution of people driving under the influence of alcohol,” Byron said.

“If you know you are going to party, remember alcohol and the roads don’t mix. Don’t put yourself in the position where you will be tempted to drive under the influence. Find a way to leave your car at home or appoint a designated driver if you are going to be drinking alcohol. Public transport, including buses and taxis are increasingly affordable options. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed, and the traffic officers are not going to be lenient any longer due to the many deaths on our roads where alcohol is the main reason for the deaths,” Byron concluded.

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