Cape Town - South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd) has called on those opposed to the use of alcohol breathalysers not to challenge the equipment’s efficacy.
This comes in the wake of the National Prosecuting Authority giving the Western Cape Transport department the green light to reintroduce the Dräger breathalyser, for use in evidentiary breath alcohol testing (EBAT), after a five-year break.
In 2011, a court ruled that the Dräger could no longer be used due to problems in the way tests were administered, leading to the acquittal of those accused of driving under the influence. However, the device will be back in action from August 1.
Transport MEC Donald Grant said with the reintroduction of EBAT, blood tests will no longer be needed for drunk driving prosecutions.
“We are confident that the reintroduction of EBAT will add yet another weapon in our arsenal to combat the illicit effects of drink driving and errant road user behaviour.”
Sadd’s Caro Smit said she was “absolutely delighted” that the Dräger is being reintroduced in Western Cape.
“The delays from the taking of blood samples and analysis of the results have caused many very preventable deaths and injuries. Sadd hopes with all our hearts and souls that people who have opposed breathalyser use will desist from challenging its efficacy. It has been proven to be accurate and effective and is used in many First World countries,” she said.
Smit said the Dräger meant people appeared in court quicker, which was one of the best ways to improve road safety. “Drunk driving is not an accident. It is a choice.”
Alcohol Breathalysers, distributors of breath alcohol testing devices also welcomed the move. Angus MacArthur said although they did not sell Evidential Breath Analysers (EBAs), they supported the use of EBAs for drunk driving prosecutions in South Africa.
“We welcome them back into use in the hope that this will drastically speed up drink driving prosecutions and help to reduce the shocking and absolutely unacceptable death toll on South Africa’s roads relating to drink driving,” he said. Grant said his department was ready for the full roll out of EBAT across the province. “Our collective efforts, as part of the Safely Home campaign, will undoubtedly go a long way to ridding our roads of dangerous drunk drivers,” he said.
Grant said he was confident that the reintroduction of the Dräger will see offenders handed swift justice, thereby deterring others from engaging in life-threatening behaviour, and refraining from getting behind the wheel of a car after having consumed alcohol.
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