New breathalyser tests for Western Cape drivers in August

The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works has been given the greenlight to reintroduce Evidentiary Breath Alcohol Testing from 1 August 2016.

Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works in the Western Cape said that the move is in keeping with the province’s commitment to addressing the scourge of drink driving, and the deadly effect it has on citizens.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed that the reintroduction can take place in August, and is to be piloted in the Western Cape.

It follows a five year absence of what is commonly refereed to as the Dräger breathalyser.

How it works:

  • Evidentiary breath alcohol testing (EBAT) uses a machine which can read how much alcohol is in a person’s breath.
  • It is called “evidentiary” as the reading can be produced as evidence to prosecute people accused of drinking and driving.
  • This machine, the people who operate it, and the location it operates in, must all pass a very specific and demanding set of tests in order to be used to prosecute suspects.

“The reintroduction of EBAT is the culmination of years of dedicated work by the Department of Transport and Public Works and Safely Home, following the State v Hendricks judgement in 2011 which saw the Dräger breathalyser being withdrawn from use,” Grant said.

“In the case, the judge found that there were problems in some of the ways in which the Dräger device was used, leading to the acquittal of the accused who had been charged with driving with a breath alcohol level higher than the legal limit of 0.24mg per 1 000ml.”

The judge found that breathalysers are a reliable means of testing for alcohol in a suspect, and that they should be used as a tool to “eradicate the scourge of drunk driving for the betterment of society”.

Using the judgement as a guiding tool, Grant said that the Department of Transport and Public Works then created a task team to work through and correct all of the problems which the court had identified.

The task team included experts from the National Prosecuting Authority, the National Department of Transport, the South African Bureau of Standards, the Western Cape Provincial Traffic Services, and the Gene Louw Traffic College. The task team has now completed its work.

“We are now ready for the full rollout of EBAT across the province as of 1 August 2016,” Roberts said.

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New breathalyser tests for Western Cape drivers in August