Reintroduction of evidentiary breath alcohol testing | Western Cape Government


Reintroduction of evidentiary breath alcohol testing

29 July 2016

The prosecution of people accused of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol will become effective and quicker once evidentiary breath alcohol testing (EBAT) is reintroduced on 1 August 2016.

Alcohol plays a causal role in a large proportion of fatal crashes in the Western Cape. Many motorists continue to drink and drive despite repeated warnings by traffic authorities that alcohol and roads don’t mix. Drivers who continue to risk their lives and the lives of other citizens heedlessly, who destroy taxpayer-funded infrastructure, and who take policing resources away from attending to other crimes are reminded that unlike blood alcohol testing, EBAT results are immediate.

EBAT uses a machine which can read how much alcohol is in a person’s breath. It is called “evidentiary” because the reading can be used as evidence in the prosecution of offenders and is accepted by the courts for this purpose. In order for the information from an EBAT test to be admissible as evidence in a prosecution, the EBAT machine, the people who operate it, and the testing conditions must all meet a specific set of legal requirements. Western Cape provincial traffic officers using this equipment received training at the Gene Louw Traffic College, and meet all requirements.

This means that persons suspected of driving under the influence who are below the legal limit can be released immediately. Persons arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence may be detained for some time, often overnight or until the end of a weekend. In the previous system, because of the long delays in obtaining the results of blood tests, such persons will then face a long period of legal uncertainty while the blood test is being processed, often six months or more. By contrast, because the results of an EBAT test are instant, the case can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently. The immediate release of the innocent and the swift conclusion of cases for the guilty are the main reasons why EBAT has serviced the interests of DUI cases with such distinction all over the world.

Provincial Traffic Services will continue to work around the clock to help create safer, booze-free roads. In the Western Cape, traffic officers are out on the roads 24/7, ready to test drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, and to arrest them if necessary. During weekend alcohol blitz operations this year, Provincial Traffic Services have made 779 DUI arrests. The most DUI arrests were recorded during the holiday weekends in April.

The Department of Transport and Public Works has spent many long hours with the National Prosecuting Authority and other role players to ensure that all the legal requirements are met to reintroduce EBAT equipment at our SHADOW (Safely Home Anti-drink Driving Operational Room) Centre in Athlone. This will enable the swift processing and prosecution of people driving under the influence of alcohol.  

Driving under the influence can cost you time in prison, legal fees, fines, your job, your licence and possibly your life. If you decide to drink and drive, traffic officers are waiting for you. Make another plan, and don’t drink and drive. Let’s work together to make driving under the influence a thing of the past.

Read more about EBAT online.

Follow Safely Home’s July campaign on Twitter @WCGovSafelyHome under the hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads.

Media Enquiries: 

Byron la Hoe
Communication Officer
Department of Transport and Public Works
Tel: 021 483 9813
Cell: 079 281 8570