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JPSA: 'Law enforcement deficient'

2013-07-12 13:05

‘GROSSLY DEFICIENT LAW ENFORCEMENT’: Justice Project South Africa’s national chairman, HOWARD DEMBOVSKY, says that a small proportion of offenders are taken to task. Image: SAPA PICS

HOWARD DEMBOVSKY

Earlier in July 2013, Wheels24 reported that British roads minister Stephen Hammond released plans to make it easier to prosecute people who drive under the influence of drugs.

Proposals published in July 2013 list the drugs to be included in the legislation and the limits. The proposals follow a report published in March 2013 by a panel of medical and scientific experts which advised the UK government on drug-driving.

Wheels24 asked readers to send us their thoughts on the new regulations and whether it could be implemented in South Africa.

TACKLING THE DRUG-DRIVING ISSUE

Justice Project South Africa’s national chairman, Howard Dembovsky, shares his thoughts on SA’s drug-driving issue:

It is disturbing to note that few people (law enforcers included) are aware of the fact that South Africa ALREADY has legislation which prohibits driving under the influence of a drug having a narcotic effect.  

Section 65(1) of the National Road Traffic Act states as follows:

No person shall on a public road -
(a) drive a vehicle; or
(b) occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle the engine of which is running, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect.


SA is not really deficient in the quantum of laws we have. What it is grossly deficient is its enforcement and prosecuting offenders.  As things stand, a very small proportion of people arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol are convicted in a reasonable timeframe – if ever.  

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has conducted a study on the predominance of drug use whilst driving. It found that three times as many people who drive under the influence of alcohol, drive under the influence of drugs.

Given that nearly 60% of people who die on our roads annually are found to be over the legal alcohol limit, it stands to reason that tackling these two areas, namely alcohol and drug-driving, would effectively reduce our road deaths significantly.

'IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE'

The problem is identical to the one experienced with all other traffic enforcement in South Africa – little to no enforcement.  

There is little will on the part of the role players to actually tackle the real issues as they have become lazy, ineffective and almost purely revenue driven.  

Maybe one day, if citizens actually start demanding it, our traffic authorities will start doing their jobs. In the meantime it’s a jungle out there.

Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

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