The Citizen (KZN)

Call for zero tolerance for drunk driving

- Marizka Coetzer

There should be zero tolerance for drunk driving, says crime expert Professor Jaco Barkhuizen, who finds it concerning that 10 motorists were arrested in Hatfield, Tshwane, last Friday night.

Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) spokespers­on Senior Superinten­dent Isaac Mahamba said this showed the department was committed to reducing road fatalities.

“With the use of the TMPD mobile alcohol testing centre, these operations resulted in the arrests of 10 motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol and they were detained at the local police station,” he said.

Mahamba said one of the motorists tried to bribe the officials with a R100 note. He was also charged for bribery.

“One hundred and forty-four Aarto [Administra­tive Adjudicati­on of Road Traffic Offences Act] infringeme­nt notices amounting to R87 350 were issued to motorists who did not comply with the rules of the road,” he added.

Mahamba said these operations would continue throughout the year in Tshwane.

Barkhuizen said it was concerning that so many arrests had been made in a single night.

“Drunk driving and driving under the influence are a huge cause of road fatalities in South Africa,” he said.

Calling for zero tolerance for drunk driving, he said: “Driving under the influence causes more harm than anything else.

“Arresting people alone is not enough.”

Barkhuizen said more had to be done in terms of creating awareness and social campaigns urging people not to drink and drive.

“There should be a social fund big breweries contribute to that goes to victims of vehicle accidents caused by drunk driving,” he said.

Harsher sentences and lower speed limits should also be implemente­d and “there should also be a political and policing will to enforce the laws”, he said.

Law expert Dr Llewelyn Curlewis said the penalties for driving under the influence were like any other vehicular crime, such as reckless or careless driving, or driving without a license.

“It depends on whether you apply for bail and if it’s granted immediatel­y,” he said.

“Usually it’s on a Friday evening or over a long weekend.

“Remember they have 48 hours to charge you; they don’t have to charge you right away.

“The police can also deny bail and then an investigat­ing officer must be appointed for an investigat­ion.

“There is no one size fits all. It depends from magistrate to magistrate,” he explained.

The harshest punishment is up to six years in prison or a R120 000 fine.

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