In keeping with our commitment to addressing the scourge of drink driving, and the deadly effect it has on the citizens of this province, 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) as from 1 August 2016. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed that the reintroduction can take place in August, and is 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.
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Public Works and Safely Home, following the State v Hendricks judgement in 2011 which saw the Dräger breathalyser being withdrawn from use.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, leading to the acquittal of the accussed who had been charged with driving with a breath alcohol level higher than the legal limit of 0.24mg per 1,000ml.
More importantly, however, is that 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”.
Using the judgement as a guiding tool, the Department of Transport and Public Works then 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 National Prosecuting Authority, the National Department of Transport, the South African Bureau of Standards, the Western Cape Provincial Traffic Services, and the Gene Louw Traffic College. The task team has now completed its work.
We are now ready for the full rollout of EBAT across the province as of 1 August 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.
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.
To learn more, visit safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za or search on the hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads