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Drivers face roadside blood tests

Industry news

Authorities in Cape Town plan to carry out blood tests on suspected drunk drivers at roadblocks as part of new measures to crack down on the scourge.

On Friday night, Cape Town Traffic Services set up a roadblock on Modderdam Road between Valhalla Drive and the N2 in Bishop Lavis between 8pm and 2am, resulting in 91 arrests and fines. Eleven people were arrested for drunk driving - eight of them within the first hour.

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Cape Town - 120601 - Inspector Andre Norman tests a suspect while Safely Home's Kevin October looks on - A roadblock was held by Provincial and City Traffic Officials on Modderdam road Southbound near the N2 (Bonteheuwel) on Friday night. In the first hour of the road block being set up 8 people were arrested for drunk driving (the lowest alcohol reading on the Drager was 0.38 almost twice the legal limit) The first people to be arrested was an off-duty police officer. The suspects were taken to the Bishop Lavis Police Station for processing. Also nabbed was a 17 year old taxi driver driving an unroadworthy taxi. The normal driver was too drunk to drive so they sent the 17 year old to drive the taxi. The taxi was impounded and the youth was taken to Bishop Lavis police station to wait for his parents before being charged. His parents were also allegedly too drunk to come to the scene. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Transport MEC Robin Carlisle’s head of ministry, Hector Elliott, said drunk drivers would face tougher action in future, thanks to a new measure.

They were attempting to have nurses or similarly qualified medical staff to draw blood from allegedly drunk drivers at roadblocks and ensure rock-solid evidence was available for prosecutions.

TAXI DRIVER WAS ONLY 17

This would be done to those who had shown high alcohol levels using a screening breathaliser.

On Friday, within 10 minutes of cops setting up a roadblock, the first suspected drunk driving offender - an off-duty police officer - was pulled over and arrested. He was was taken to the Bishop Lavis police station where charges were laid and blood drawn.

Soon after midnight, a taxi loaded with 11 passengers was pulled over for not displaying a licence disc. When the driver was questioned, it turned out that he was only 17 years old and did not have a driving licence.

The vehicle was not roadworthy, as its doors did not operate properly, it had a badly damaged steering wheel, seats which were not properly attached and no seatbelts.

One person measured 0.78 on the breathalyser - almost four times the legal limit of 0.24.

Another driver protested that he had finished drinking that morning and had not had anything since then. His reading measured 0.58.

He hung his head in shame and said: “This is so embarrassing. But I finished drinking this morning.”

Officers explained to him that alcohol remains in your bloodstream for up to 48 hours.

A queue of cars stretched for more than 100m, with some cars trying to reverse up the one-way road in an attempt to escape. A number of drivers and passengers jumped out of their cars and switched seats.

Also at the roadblock:

32 unlicensed drivers were fined.

27 unlicensed motor vehicles were stopped.

Three drivers failed to display number plates.

Two taxi drivers were fined for not possessing professional driving permits (PDPs).

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