Cape Town - 120601 - A suspect blows into a drager operated by Principle Inspector Adrian Long while Robin Carlisle and Officer Deon Sampson look on. He was found to be three times over the legal limit - 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

People caught driving under the influence of alcohol will face community service instead of jail time, thanks to an initiative launched by the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) and SA Breweries (SAB).

The alcohol and road offences initiative, to be piloted in and around Cape Town, has been designed to reduce the workload and lessen the burden on the criminal justice system, while rehabilitating drivers.

The initiative allows suitable offenders who have been found guilty, and sentenced, to avoid going to prison.

Instead, they take part in a special educational, therapeutic programme and carry out their sentences in the community. The offenders will still have a criminal record, however.

“For a very small percentage of people, prison is the place to be. But if we are to fight driving under the influence in a meaningful way, we cannot simply punish those driving under the influence without addressing faulty thinking patterns and the behaviours which result because of this,” said Nicro chief executive Soraya Solomon.

Speaking at the initiative’s launch at the Table Bay Hotel in the Waterfront, SAB executive director of corporate affairs and transformation Vincent Maphai confirmed the brewer’s commitment to fighting the effects of alcohol abuse.

“Government, communities, business and the NGO community need to pool their resources. There is no social problem which was ever resolved by one sector of society on its own,” said Maphai.

Yasir Ahmed, chief director of transport regulation in the Western Cape, said the initiative was a step towards the government’s goal of reducing road crash fatalities by 50 percent by the end of 2014.

“We are already down to 1 261 road deaths in Western Cape, from 1 800 in 2008,” Ahmed said.

Alcohol was the most abused substance in South Africa and was closely associated with road accidents, said Nicro communication and marketing manager Jacques Sibomama.

Nicro said drunk driving was one of the greatest threats to road safety, with research indicating that at least 50 percent of people who died on the roads had a blood-alcohol concentration above the legal limit. -Cape Argus