Driving under the influence – a sobering thought - Abrahams & Gross Attorneys

The 2017/2018 South African Police Service Annual Crime statistics showed 86,160 instances of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is a substantial amount more than the 75,034 during the 2016/2017 financial year. This means that increasingly South Africans are opting to drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Being pulled over on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be an unnerving and frightening experience. This article is a step-by-step guide of what to do should you ever be stopped under these circumstances.

STEP 1 – PULL OVER

An officer in uniform has the right to stop any motorist. Reasons may vary from routine checks, a traffic offence or to investigate possible stolen vehicles or suspicious drivers. Thus, and this might seem the most obvious, but when you are directed to pull over by a police or traffic official, either at a roadblock or during a random pull-over procedure, pull over where it is safe to do so. Do not attempt to speed away or evade the police since this will only aggravate the situation.

Bear in mind that from the moment you are directed to pull over, the police official starts to observe your movements which they will record in their statement in order to support their suspicions that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst driving.

STEP 2 – BE FRIENDLY AND POLITE

Chances are that the police official will not be friendly and will most likely come across as rude and abrupt. This is, however, not an invitation to reciprocate. Be friendly, cordial and prepared to be the lesser person.

This will not improve your chances of not being arrested for driving under the influence but will prevent the situation from escalating.

STEP 3 – COOPERATE

When prompted hand your driver’s licence to the police official and further comply with his/her reasonable requests. You do not, however, have to bend over backwards and should definitely not comply with requests which seem to be abnormal or out of the norm.

In the case of driving under the influence of alcohol you may refuse to undergo a breathalyser test, however, the police may still legally detain you and then have your blood tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs.

STEP 4 – KEEP QUIET (LESS IS MORE)

This step cannot be stressed enough, keep quiet and do not say a word. You are obliged to give the police official your name and other details, however, you do not have to answer questions like “Have you been drinking?” or “Are you under the influence of alcohol or drugs”.

Even if your answer to these questions are no, this will not deter the police official from arresting you if he/she suspects you of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It is always wise to politely inform the police official that any questions relating to the suspected offence for which you have been pulled over will only be answered after consulting with your attorney.

In conclusion, driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is never a good idea and should not even be considered as an option. If you, however, find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of being pulled over on a suspicion that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, remember: pull over, be friendly and polite, cooperate and keep quiet. When in doubt, contact your lawyer! Our experienced Criminal Law attorneys are available to assist you.

For Criminal Law expertise

Basilio de Sousa         basil@abgross.co.za

Juan Smuts.……………….juan@abgross.co.za

Henno Bothma           henno@abgross.co.za

Wesley Scheepers      wesley@abgross.co.za

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Disclaimer

The articles on these web pages are provided for general information purposes only. Whilst care has been taken to ensure accuracy, the content provided is not intended to stand alone as legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney on any specific legal problem or matter.