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Durban - A motorist who was almost nine times over the legal alcohol limit has been fined heavily and criticised by a magistrate.

Phumlami S’fiso Mbata, 43, was fined R24 000 (or 48 months, half of it suspended) by magistrate Melanie de Jager.

His blood alcohol concentration registered 0.39gm in 100 millilitres of blood.

“The interest of society dictates that a message must be sent out to the public, that driving under the influence is a serious matter,” De Jager said on Friday.

She added that she had six similar matters on her roll that day, and it was obvious that this was a prevalent problem.

“Society wants the government policy of zero tolerance enforced.

I am not going to sentence you to jail today,” said De Jager, noting Mbata had two children and a wife to support.

She did not suspend his licence, saying doing so could interfere with his ability to work. - The Mercury