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More action – less threats

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The SAPS states unequivocally that it has a zero-tolerance policy against drinking and driving but how much of this is just lip-service

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Drunk drivers could soon find themselves spending up to seven days in jail before they are considered for bail, putting that last “loop drankie” on a par with rape, murder, theft and fraud.

A national newspaper reported this weekend that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) wants drunk drivers to spend at least seven days in jail before they appear in court. The RTMC is also pressing for drunk driving, speeding, and reckless and negligent driving to be reclassified from a schedule 2 to schedule 5 offence, along with rape, murder, theft, and fraud.

The SAPS states unequivocally that it has a zero-tolerance policy against drinking and driving but how much of this is just lip-service.

If a suspected drunk driver is involved in an accident, he must be escorted to hospital by a police officer, who also needs to provide the doctor on duty with the necessary testing kit. The blood is then sent away for analysis.

This, however, often does not happen.

In many cases the police arrive at an accident scene after the paramedics have either already set up a drip or transported the driver to hospital. In some cases the officer on the scene does not have access to blood testing kits or does not know the process that needs to be followed.

This means that often drunk drivers, even though they might have caused a fatal accident, get off scot-free.

In instances where blood is drawn and the person is arrested, the cases often end up getting removed from the court roll because of the lengthy delays in getting the results back from the laboratories, which can take months.

Many people do not take drinking and driving seriously because the chances are that they are going to get away with it anyway – despite the often tragic consequences.

Statistics provided by the Kimberley traffic department show that in March this year, there were only two cases involving alcohol (out of a total of more than 2 000 plus law enforcement cases), while there were none in April, May and June and only one in July.

If we want to address drinking and driving, more action is required from law enforcement besides idle threats.

Drinking openly in public from the boot of their car has become a form of local entertainment for youngsters over the weekend in spots like the Oppenheimer Gardens and on the Johannesburg road, where it is coupled with drag racing. We all know its happening but nothing is ever done.

It should become mandatory that drivers’ blood alcohol levels are tested every time a driver is stopped and at every accident, instead of turning a blind eye because it is easier. We need a true commitment from law enforcement to reduce this crime.

People are being killed as a result of drinking and driving – it deserves to be treated like a schedule 5 offence.