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#BoozeFreeRoads: Controversial Drager system returns to Western Cape

2016-06-17 07:16

BACK IN USE: The City of Cape Town has been granted permission to reintroduce the controversial draeger breathalyser system. Image: YouTube


Cape Town's Mayoral Committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, talks about the reintroduction of the controversial Draeger breathalyser device and why he believes it will curb drunk driving in the city.

Cape Town - The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works has been given the greenlight to reintroduce "Evidentiary Breath Alcohol Testing" (EBAT), commonly referred to as the 'Dräger' breathalyser.

The department will roll out these tests from August 1 2016.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed that the reintroduction of the tests to be piloted in the Western Cape.
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.

WATCH: Controversial Drager breathalyser returns

Why were the tests rejected in SA?

Western Cape MEC of transport and public works, Donald Grant, says: "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Public Works and Safely Home, following the State v Hendricks judgement in 2011 which saw the Dräger breathalyser being withdrawn from use." 

"In the case, the judge found that there were problems in some of the ways in which the Dräger device was used, says the department, 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 1000ml." 

The new process 

The judge also 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”, reports the department.
Using the judgement as a guide, the department created a task team to work through and correct all of the problems which the court had identified.

The task team also included experts from the NPA, the National Department of Transport, the South African Bureau of Standards, the Western Cape Provincial Traffic Services, and the Gene Louw Traffic College, reports the minister.

Grant said: "We are now ready for the full rollout of EBAT across the province as of August 1 2016.
"We are confident that the reintroduction of EBAT will add yet another weapon in our arsenal to combat the illicit effects of drink driving, and errant road user behaviour. Our collective efforts, as part of the Safely Home campaign, will undoubtedly go a long way to ridding our roads of dangerous drunk drivers."
Grant adds: "I have long maintained that a crucial element to reversing errant road user behaviour is to impose harsh and appropriate consequences. I am confident that the reintroduction of EBAT will see offenders receive swift justice, thereby deterring others from engaging in such life-threatening behaviour, and refraining from getting behind the wheel of a car after having consumed alcohol."


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