Drunk drivers beware – 7 days in jail before your bail hearing

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) wants drunk drivers to spend at least 7 days in jail before they can be considered for bail.

The RTMC was established for co-operative and coordinated strategic planning, regulation, facilitation and law enforcement in respect of road traffic matters.

The Sunday Times reported that the RTMC is pushing for tougher action against drunk drivers ahead of the festive season.

According to the Sunday Times, the RTMC wants drunk driving, speeding, and reckless and negligent driving to be reclassified in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act.

It wants driving under the influence to be reclassified from a schedule 2 to schedule 5 offence, putting it on par with rape, murder, theft, and fraud.

Big impact on drunk drivers

Plans to reclassify drunk driving and other traffic offences in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act is not new.

In April 2017 BusinessTech reported that the SA traffic department was in discussions with the justice department to institute harsher punishments for motorists who drink and drive.

These planned punishments included a mandatory 2-year jail sentence with no bail.

Former transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi said that the introduction of minimum sentences for negligent and reckless driving was part of the department’s long-term strategy to curb road casualties.

The idea is to reclassify drunken driving to a schedule 5 offence, to ensure that those who negligently cause crashes on the roads do not get bail easily and spend time behind bars.

Those convicted under a schedule 5 offence face a recommended minimum sentence of 15 years in jail.

SAPS drinking and driving warning

According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) it has a zero-tolerance policy against drinking and driving.

The SAPS said it is committed to reducing this crime, particularly over festive periods such as the Christmas holidays.

South African law – Section 65 of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 – prohibits people from driving when their blood has an alcohol content level of more than 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres.

For professional drivers the law is even stricter, stipulating that they may not drive when their alcohol content level is higher than 0.02 grams per 100 millilitres.

“This means that even after what you may think is a small drink, you could be over the limit,” the SAPS says.

“If you have more than 350ml of beer, or if you have more than a single tot of brandy or other spirit, you may already be over the limit.”

It also reminded people that alcohol can remain in their system for up to 8 hours after consumption.

Current punishment for drunken driving

If you are stopped and it is determined that you have consumed more than the legal limit of alcohol, you will be arrested and charged with “Driving Under the Influence of Liquor”.

You will then be held in custody until you are able to post bail. In certain instances, bail may be denied.

Depending on prior convictions against you, as well as the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you face a minimum fine of R2,000 or a two-year prison sentence, or both.

“You may also lose your driver’s licence, or have it suspended. And, of course, you will have a criminal record,” the SAPS said.

According to South Africans Against Drunk Driving, aggravating circumstances like death or severe injury can increase the fines to between R120,000 and R180,000.

Drunk drivers can also face jail sentences of up to 9 years for causing severe injury or death.

Now read: Drunk driving may be classified the same as rape, murder in South Africa – Minister

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Drunk drivers beware – 7 days in jail before your bail hearing