"Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Then Drive"

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The Law - FAQ

What are the charges for driving under the influence of alcohol?

The National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) of 1996:

 

Section 65: Driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug having a narcotic effect, or with excessive amount of alcohol in breath or blood

 

Main charge: Sec 65 (1.) 'No person shall on a public road'-

 

a.) drive a vehicle

b.) occcupy a driver's seat of a vehicle the engine of which is running

 

while under the influence of intoxicating liqur or drug having narcotic effect'

 

NB: Author's notes: For this a blood or breath test in not required, what is required is proof that the person was driving and that their driving was impaired by the alcohol.

 

An extremely thorough examination and documentation of behaviour and symptoms is therefore very necessary.

 

Secondary charges: Section 65 (2) 'No person shall on a public road'-

 

a.) drive a vehicle

b.) occcupy a driver's seat of a vehicle the engine of which is running

 

while the concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from any part of his or her body is not less than 0,05gram per 100 millitres, or in the case of a professional driver referred to in section 32, not less than 0,02 gram per 100 millitres'.

 

Secondary charges: Section 65 (5) 'No person shall on a public road'-

 

a.) drive a vehicle

b.) occcupy a driver's seat of a vehicle the engine of which is running

 

while the concentration of alcohol in any specimen of breath exhaled by such a person is not less than 0,24 milligrams per 1000 millitres, or in the case of a professional driver referred to in section 32, not less thatn 0,10 millitres per 1000 millitres'.

 

2 hour period limit for collection of alcohol speciman to stand up in Court:

 

Section 65 (3)... if for any prosecution (of Subsection 2) ... a blood specimen must be taken within 2 hours of the alleged contravention...

 

Section 65 (6)... if for any prosecution (of Subsection 5)... a breath alcohol specimen must be taken within 2 hours of the alleged contravention. 

 

 

 

Possible fines and consequences:

 

  1. Fines of up to R120 000 or R180,00 for death or severe injury caused.
  2. The laws allow a 9 year sentence for causing severe injury or death.
  3. Automatic suspension of Licences. Sect 35 National Road Traffic Act states that Drivers licenses must be automatically suspended for:
    1. 6 months as per the first offence;
    2. 5 years for the second offence;
    3. 10 years or more for third or subsequent offences.

Can blood alcohol samples be taken if a patient has a drip?

YES: Use the opposite arm to the one with the drip as fluids dilute alcohol.

  • Record if possible how much of the fluid has gone into the patient when the test was done – e.g.100ml.
  • If necessary the Doctor or nurse can also send a little of the fluid from the drip in a sample container, to prove it did not have any alcohol in the drip or other substances that may alter the alcohol results.
  • Do not use an alcohol swab at any time with any drink driving/alcohol query.

Is there a difference between breath alcohol and blood alcohol levels

The diagrams opposite explain the differences between the breath and blood alcohol levels and limits, and explains some of the commonly used screening and evidential devices. The alcohol limits are lower for a professional drivesr, like bus and taxi drivers.

Can blood samples be taken if the drivers is injured?

The Act allows, in the event of a driver being injured to such an extent that he is taken to hospital, that a member of the police service must accompany him to hospital, while another member goes to the Police Station to lay a charge and open a SAP 308A.
The nurse or Doctor can take blood from the opposite arm to the one with the drip.

Can a registered nurse take a blood test or can only a doctor at a hospital take blood?

  • Section 37(2)(a) Criminal Procedures Act (CPA) 51/1977. Any Doctor or registered nurse may take a blood sample.
  • They need to use the correct Blood Collection Kit from the SAPS, check the serial number on the attached clip and make sure the same number is used on the second clip that seals the blood sample.
  • The correct forms (as supplied) must be completed very carefully accurately
  • In Culpable Homicide or serious injuries use a District Surgeon if one is available. This stands up better in court, and helps get a conviction.

Can a doctor refuse to take a blood test?

  • YES: If a SAP 308A has not been completed.
  • NO: If the SAP 308A has been completedia docket opened. If requested to draw a blood specimen, a Doctor or nurse may not refuse. If a Doctor or nurse should refuse, he or she could be charged. The utmost discretion should be used in this regard. If the accused requests that his or her own Doctor be summoned to draw the specimen there is no objection. The request of the accused should, however, not obstruct the course of the examination. The sample must be drawn within two hours.

Can an alcohol test be taken after two hours?

The two hour time period was meant to have been used as a guideline, but was unfortunately written into the NRTA as a Law. SADD have asked that this be changed and used as a guideline again. Blood should therefore at present be drawn within two hours. Even if the two hour period has lapsed , an officer may still insist that a blood specimen should be drawn. It can still be used in court. In such a case the statement must prove that the accused was definitely under the influence of alcohol or another substance. The full assessment of the Effects of Alcohol by a Doctor / nurse should be done, as well as drawing blood. It is critically important to do the Alcohol assessment in these cases, as the driver may then be charged under the Main Count (Sect 65(1) ie driving under the influence. At this time you should complete a very full sobrierty assessment of the patient, as this may be used in Court and is especially important in cases where severe injury or death has occured. 

Use the correct blood collection kit from SAPS, and fill in the correct forms as supplied. Do not use an alcohol swab at any time with any drink driving/alcohol query.

In Culpable Homicide or serious injuries use a District Durgeion if one is available, as long as this does not delay the drawing of blood, and that blood is taken within 2 hours.

A District Surgeon statement stands up better in Court, and helps get a conviction.