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Consistent enforcement needed to tackle drunk driving

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State laboratories are proving far too inefficient in returning blood sample results of those arrested whilst driving under the influence of alcohol, a scenario that is severely deterred efforts to clampdown on drunk drivers. These inefficiencies, according to the director of the Justice Project SA, mean that very few drunk-driving cases turn into successful convictions.

The declaration comes amid reports that the Western Cape has witnessed an alarming increase in road fatalities over the current festive season period; 133 people have died in road incidents compared to 120 throughout the same period last year. Also concerning is that the stat comes with most holiday makers yet to make their return journey home.

Director, Howard Dembovsky suggested that the increased crackdown on those driving while over the legal limit should not be limited to just the festive period, but should rather be enforced consistently throughout the year.

““If we continue to use the frame of actions that we use every single (end of) year and expect different results, that’s the first sign of insanity. The fact is if you allow people to get into bad habits and suddenly expect them to behave themselves in December, that’s just not going to happen,” he declared.

Dembovsky noted that there were growing suggestions of lowering the alcohol limit. However, he suspected this would do little to eradicate the problem.

“In so doing, you are just going to increase the number of people you are trying to prosecute, but you are not going to be prosecuting any of those people either. It’s just going to exacerbate the problem rather than resolve it,” he said.

He reiterated that the answer to the problem was consistent and effective enforcement of the current laws all year round, not just during the year-end period.

“It’s been proven all over the world that effective drunk-driving campaigns are not dependant on the harshness of the penalty, rather the immediacy thereof,” he stressed, adding that prohibition was not proving successful either. VOC


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