Currently, only about 2% of drunk drivers caught are prosecuted because of the long delays in getting the blood tests back from the laboratories.
Joburg metro police department spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the Evidential Breath Alcotest machines were a first for the country.
They would give the time and date of an offence. The sex and age of the driver would be taken into account. A copy of the result would also be given to the motorist.
The testers were approved by the National Director of Public Prosecutions this year.
Four were in operation and have been placed in Sandton, the Joburg CBD and two in mobile units patrolling the streets.
Minnaar said there would be a special team monitoring the machines to see if the turnaround time for court cases and convictions improved.
Conviction rate only 2%
“We hope this new, more sophisticated breathalyser machine will lead to more convictions and fewer incidents of drunk driving,” he added.
Announcing the crime statistics for drunk driving this month, Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba said that about 800 arrests were made for the offence last month.
However, only 2% of these motorists were convicted.
Mashaba lamented the fact that the prosecuting authorities were not taking this seriously enough and that major cities should get their own courts.
The city has five of its own municipal courts, which were opened this year, but they have failed miserably.
Mashaba said there were administrative problems such as the change of magisterial districts and boundaries which resulted in fines issued in incorrect districts being withdrawn.
Officers were still using old traffic fine books, which, when presented in courts, were thrown out. New books would soon be issued, he added.
Other errors, which resulted in cases being thrown out, were that drivers’ particulars were not always captured properly. Officers would be retrained in the new year.
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