Drunk Drivers To Face Dire Consequences This Easter

Drunk Drivers To Face Dire Consequences This Easter

Most of us would rate ourselves as excellent drivers.

In fact, a recent AA survey found that 85% of South African drivers rated their performance behind the wheel as excellent or better – beyond reproach – and when something terrible happens on our roads, it’s almost always somebody else’s fault.

It begs the question: if we’re all such great drivers, then why are our roads so incredibly deadly?

During the first two weeks of the 2018 festive season, 787 people died on our roads and over 2 800 were arrested for driving under the influence, speeding, and a variety of other heinous offences. The problem has spiralled so far out of control that the RTMC has even tabled a proposal to reclassify drunken driving as a Schedule 5 offence – putting it on par with atrocities such as rape and murder – in an effort to encourage better road behaviour.

Cases of speeding, negligence and drunken driving increase at a frightening level over holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter, with every province but Gauteng seeing year after year of rising death tolls.

In further effort to stave off the mayhem and bloodshed, we’ve seen drunken drivers fast-tracked through prosecution and brought to court much faster than before, and, of course, we’ve got the incoming demerit system.

That’s not all. Earlier this month, the Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, launched the 2019 Easter Road Safety Campaign, during which he demonstrated our new Evidential Breathalyser Alcohol Test (EBAT) system, soon to be implemented on our roads.

Let’s take a look at what this means for those caught driving under the influence.

In Case You Missed It: Drunk Driving To Be Treated Like Murder!

How Does The EBAT System Work?

We spoke about the EBAT system a little bit in a previous article – Everything You Need to Know about the New Breathalysers. Here is everything you need to know about the new system, and why it is being used, in easy bullet points:

  • The system is designed to replace the older blood test system, which took ages to complete and resulted in motorists being detained (sometimes unnecessarily) for long periods of time, followed by months of legal uncertainty while awaiting the results.
  • Under the EBAT system, test results are instant, on the spot, detailed, and enable officers to deal with cases faster and more efficiently.
  • The EBAT system reads the alcohol level of a person’s breath, with two samples taken. If the lower of these two samples is found to be over the legal limit, the driver will be charged and detained.
  • The reading is so immediate and accurate that it can be produced as evidence during the prosecution of drunken drivers. Hence – Evidential Breathalyser.
  • The machine, the officers operating it, and the location it operates in, will all be required to pass specific and stringent tests in order to be able to prosecute suspected drunken drivers.
  • According to the Department’s spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi, Mobile EBAT offices are already being rolled out (one in the Western Cape, one in KwaZulu-Natal and two in Gauteng), and will continue until the end of October.

In Case You Missed It: Parliament Approves Demerit System!

Everything Else Is Becoming Stricter, Too

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, plans have been put into place to classify drunken driving as a much more serious offence. In the event of killing somebody, drunken drivers will be charged criminally – not just civilly – and this could see those found guilty facing jail sentences of no less than 15 years.

Here are some of the other initiatives in the pipeline:

  • The RTMC is pushing for those arrested for drunken driving to spend a minimum of seven days behind bars before even being considered for bail.
  • As all South African motorists are now aware, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport has accepted the final amendments to the AARTO Bill (including the demerit point system), which will go through the National Assembly before being signed into law. This is expected to happen soon.
  • The SAPS and Department of Justice have been engaging in talks to reassess the conditions for granting bail to motorists caught speeding, which is expected to become a lot harsher.
  • The government has begun to implement the road safety curriculum at basic education level, with the curriculum now having been finalised.
  • The RTMC has begun to work closely with driving schools to ensure the production of competent drivers.

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