In an effort to reduce drunk driving in South Africa, the police are clamping down on this offense and in this case taking prisoners, pun intended. 

In November 2018, RTMC suggested to the Department of Justice that driving under the influence (DUI), excessive speed and recklessness or negligent driving will be reclassified in accordance with the Act on Criminal Procedure. This would include changing DUI from schedule 2 offense to a schedule 5 offense. What exactly does this mean you ask, drunk driving would be classified in the same category as rape and murder.

Department of Transport spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi, said, “If you have killed someone while drunk driving you will be charged criminally and not just civilly”.

“This means that you will face jail time of no less than 15 years.”

Other punishments that will be enforced with these new laws is that if one is caught driving and is over the legal alcohol limit (0.24mg in 1 000 ml of breath, also approx. 1.5 beers) the offender’s passport will be suspended and they will have a minimum fine of R100 000.

Arrested “drunk” drivers will have to spend at least 7 days behind bars before they are allowed to be considered for bail. There are already longer than usual bail rules set when the offense is DUI but spokesperson Simon Zwane has stated that they want to enforce longer jail time even when a crash hasn’t happened.

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The New Breathalizer Launched

With the new breathalyzer was launched this year just before Easter weekend, it’s already going to be easier to prosecute drunk drivers for the crime. The new breathalyzer gives immediate results and is more accurate than ever before. Because these results are more accurate than before, the police are now allowed to use the results as evidence in court and prosecute you without doing a blood alcohol test.

More Interventions to Come This Year

  • 1. Re-classification from schedule 2 to schedule 5 of Criminal Procedure Act of all road traffic offenses, including drunk driving, reckless and negligent driving and inconsiderate driving;
  • 2. Enforcing the new plan for the introduction of the driving school instructor course. The RTMC will be working together to improve safety on the roads by enforcing a new qualification to be held by drivers. This includes the rollout of the road safety curriculum at basic education level;
  • 3. The implementation of the demerit point system under the AARTO Act.

Read more about the Demerit Point System Coming:

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