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Western Cape launches mobile alcohol testing unit

2017-12-15 13:56

Image: Supplied

Cape Town - The Western Cape has acquired a Mobile Alcohol Evidentiary Unit which has been a culmination of months of hard work and dedication from the Department of Transport and Public Works, working very closely with the Directorate for Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the South African Police Services (SAPS) in the Western Cape. 

Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant says: "This state-of-the-art unit, which is a repurposed emergency services vehicle, will become yet another weapon in our arsenal used to target the scourge of drink driving in this province.

"It is a first of its kind in South Africa."

We already know, from our statistics, that:

• Drivers who die on Western Cape roads are likely to be Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) positive. Over 40% of those tested were found to be BAC positive.
• Most pedestrians killed on our roads were also found to have been under the influence of alcohol (61% of them where BAC content is known).

Grant says: "The Mobile Alcohol Evidentiary Unit makes it possible to do rapid on-the-spot checks to determine whether a driver is under the influence, while increasing the likelihood of a successful prosecution.

"On-the-spot testing makes it possible to release innocent suspects immediately. No blood testing is necessary. By removing the need for personnel to accompany suspects to distant testing centres, the technology also enables more law enforcement officials to be on duty at any time." 

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Grant says this new mobile unit is an exact duplicate of the existing infrastructure inside the Vangate Alcohol Evidence Centre (AEC), which is required when properly administering Evidentiary Breath Alcohol Testing (EBAT), commonly known as the Dräger breathalyser.

"The mobile unit has been repurposed at a cost of just over R400 000, and has been designed to meet the same prescribed standards of the Vangate Alcohol Evidence Centre", he says. 

The unit is permanently fitted with:

• Approved Dräger Model: 9510 ZA  that meets all legislative requirements,
• Video and sound recording capability to record all activities in the unit,
• Computer programmes for the recording of subject’s information and results of all breath tests which will be streamed to the mainframe based at our Vangate AEC,
• Equipment such as portable alcohol screening devices and road signage which will enable our officers to set up Vehicle Check Points to conduct random breath testing within minutes,
• Some additional features including a water supply and a generator to provide power which is converted to drive all of the systems fitted.

The minister adds: "This Mobile Alcohol Evidentiary Unit is currently being deployed on a pilot basis at various hotspots to assist in the ongoing fight against drink driving. It is our intention to expand the reach of this mobile unit across province, and to share the valuable information we gather during this pilot phase with the National Department of Transport, with the view to rolling this project out to the rest of the country." 

Grant says: "As road crashes and fatalities continue to devastate lives and to impact negatively on the socio-economic development of the Western Cape, we have continued to do all we can to tackle the main causes of injuries and fatalities. Our evidence-based approach continues to yield positive results, helping us to devise innovative solutions like the one we are showcasing today, aimed at ridding our roads of drunk drivers, and improving overall road safety.

"We are very grateful to our dedicated partners, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the South African Police Services, for the work that they have put in towards ensuring that this pilot is successful, and that our new Mobile Alcohol Evidentiary Unit is ready to get to work over this festive season. 

"Too many motorists are still risking their own lives and the lives of others by driving under the influence of alcohol. We must continue to do all we can to address the scourge of drinking and driving, and to prevent the senseless loss of life that results from such behaviour."

Read more on:    donald grant  |  western cape  |  roads

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