Your Life In Someone's Hands, His In Yours - Let's Talk about DUI | Legal Articles


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Your Life In Someone's Hands, His In Yours - Let's Talk about DUI

The reality of the matter is that at any given time the life of a road user is always in the hands of another, be it as a passenger in a vehicle, a pedestrian, a cyclist or driving one’s own vehicle. One may be cautious and exercise due diligence on the road but their life may be endangered by the reckless or negligent conduct of another road user, which may result in fatalities in the most unfortunate of instances. Using the road under the influence of liquor immensely increases the chances of reckless and negligent behaviour on the road and this is why it can never be overemphasised for road users not to use the road while intoxicated because not only does it endanger the lives of other road users, but puts oneself at risk as well. However, what happens in an instance where one is pulled over by the traffic police while under the influence of liquor, what happens next?

It must be said right from the onset that it is NOT advisable to drive under the influence of liquor, it endangers lives. In this article we will share a few general guidelines on the procedures that are followed when one is pulled over and suspected to be under the influence of liquor.

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Caught for Drunk Driving in South Africa - Now What?

Firstly and after being pulled over, the traffic officer may ask for such things as permits, licenses etc, and upon suspecting that the driver is under the influence of liquor the traffic officer will ask the driver if he has been drinking. It is important for the driver to answer the questions as honest as possible but at the same time be cautious to limit answers only to what has been asked. The traffic officer will usually ask the driver to step outside the vehicle and request the driver to take a breathalyser test. This is a machine where one has to blow in as hard as possible before it shows a reading. In South Africa the reading must be less than 0.24 milligrams of alcohol per 1 000 millilitres of breath for one not to be concluded to be driving under the influence of liquor.

The second stage is that should it happen that the breathalyser reading is above the limit, the traffic officer will request the driver to lock the vehicle and make sure it is safe where it is parked or to call someone (relative, spouse, friend) to come and pick up the vehicle whilst the traffic officer will go with the driver to a blood testing centre e.g hospital, where blood samples will be drawn (this must be done within 2 hours from the time one is pulled over) and sent to the laboratory for testing. At this point the driver will be put under arrest taken to the police station for booking in and for a case docket to be opened. The driver has all the rights of an arrested person e.g to be informed of their rights at this point, not to make incriminating statements, right to legal representation etc. Bail can also be arranged once the driver has been charged, unless one’s criminal record profile (previous convictions) is such that a bail application must only be done in Court. If the investigating officer is of the opinion that bail can be arranged, one can expect a bail of between R500 – R2 000 and once it is paid, the driver will be released and given a Notice to Appear in Court on a certain date for the first appearance.

The third stage is when the driver makes his first appearance at Court whereby the State will either postpone the matter pending the blood results at the laboratory or if the results are ready, the matter may be postponed for disclosure (furnishing particulars to the defence). The matter will then proceed until conclusion of the trial, unless the driver pleads guilty beforehand. If found guilty the accused driver will be given a fine, community service sentence or imprisonment, depending on the criminal profile of the accused driver and the gravity of the offence. During the court stage, the driver has all the rights of an accused and it is important that one seeks legal assistance.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incoporated - Criminal Litigation Attorneys South Africa

The above is a general guideline on the procedures that are followed since the time one is pulled over by the traffic police and suspected to be driving under the influence of liquor. It is advisable that one must be wary of their rights on each stage so that should there be any violation of these rights by the traffic officers, one may challenge this. At van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated our Criminal Litigation department is well acquainted with these procedures and we stand ready to assist in litigating DUI cases. Contact us for more information and assistance.



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