The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is pushing for tougher legal action against drunk drivers ahead of the festive season.
The RTMC wants driving under the influence to be reclassified from a schedule 2 to a schedule 5 offence, ensuring that offenders are not granted bail easily and that time is spent behind bars.
The RTMC wants drunk drivers to spend at least seven days in jail before they can be considered for bail. If arrested, offenders face a minimum fine of R2000 or a two-year prison sentence, or both.
Christelle Colman, executive for high-net-worth solutions at Old Mutual Insure, said jail time was not the only issue motorists would have if found guilty of drunken driving.
“The insurance implications for drunk driving are also serious and could cost motorists dearly. Insurers won’t pay claims if it’s been proven that drivers were under the influence at the time of the accident. Not only that, but it also impacts their risk profile and offenders may find insurers refusing to cover them following a drunk driving incident, or at the very least, their premiums will be very high,” Colman said.
The Justice Project, on its Twitter account, said the RTMC had been threatening and regurgitating this nonsense every year since 2015 asking “how does it even make the news?”
Is prison really the answer?
DA spokesperson on transport Nceba Hinana said sending drunk drivers to prison won’t help.
“We are already sending people to jail and it is not helping. There are people in prison for the most petty crimes and they cannot get out because they can’t maybe pay the bail of as little as R50. We need to find ways to change the behaviour. Sending people to jail for things is, unfortunately, not going to work,” he said.
“Some people go to jail unblemished. Then they come out hardened criminals. It’s not going to help if we turn drunken drivers into hardened criminals,” he added.
ANC spokesperson on transport Cameron Dugmore said the intervention was welcomed.
“It will help because we need to send a strong message out to offenders. Those who drink and drive cause serious dangers for other road users and pedestrians. We need to take the firmest action against those who simply refuse to stay away from alcohol,” he said.