New and improved breathalyser to help fight war on drunk driving
There's an advanced new breathalyser in town and it means business.
In a bid to reduce SA's road death toll of 14,000 people a year, the department of transport has brought in a new evidential breath alcohol testing machine, right, piloted in the Western Cape and launched in Pietermaritzburg this week.
The department has worked closely with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to ensure that the device provides watertight evidence against drunk drivers.
The next step is a national rollout.
The launch comes ahead of the Easter holidays - a dreaded period for road traffic authorities because of its high fatalities.
A 2011 judgment in the Western Cape High Court placed the accuracy of the previous Dräger device under scrutiny and it was withdrawn.
The Road Traffic Management Corporation said the new device gives an immediate, accurate reading of the alcohol level in a driver's blood stream.
Transport minister Blade Nzimande said at the launch this week that the new technology would eliminate long delays - sometimes up to six months - in waiting for blood test results before a driver faces prosecution.
The corporation's spokesperson, Simon Zwane, said the machine tests the blood alcohol content in a driver's blood stream.
"A suspected drunk driver will be made to blow into the machine twice to confirm the reading of drunkenness. The second reading is the one that will be used to charge a person with drunk driving.
"The machine produces a printout showing the date, time and alcohol in a person's bloodstream. Training has been provided in all provinces on the prosecution guidelines and use of the technology," said Zwane.
Advocate George Baloyi, acting North Gauteng director of public prosecutions, told the Sunday Times that a special committee of NPA and law enforcement authorities had mandated a team led by a senior state advocate to address technical "shortcomings" identified in the court judgment.
The launch of the new breathalyser comes as the amended Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Bill is meant to be signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.Under Aarto, fines and penalties will be standardised for all traffic violations and will give effect to a points demerit system.Nzimande said he believed the implementation of Aarto was among the "critical interventions to reduce fatalities and save lives on our roads".However, the Automobile Association of SA said the provisions regarding the demerit points appeared to be geared more towards "revenue collection than dealing with road safety".