02 Sep Drunk Driving: What to do if you are caught driving while intoxicated?
“I was arrested for drunk driving. Now what?”
South African law has a very low tolerance for drinking and driving, and for good reason, as it is one of the leading causes for accidents on our roads. Currently, the legal limit on our roads is 0.05 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, which amounts to approximately 75 milliliters of wine.
Our advice is unwavering – do not drink and drive! If, however, in the unfortunate event that you are caught to have been driving under the influence, our attorneys at Louw & Coetzee Attorneys are able to assist.
WHAT TO DO WHEN PULLED OVER?
- Be as cooperative as possible
- Comply with the breathalyser test
- Provide the officer with your personal details i.e. full name, address & ID number
- Phone someone you know can be relied upon
If you are found to be over the legal limit, you will be arrested and detained. You are entitled to one phone call. Our advice is to call our 24/7 number at 063 682 5811 / 082 734 9230 for specialised legal assistance to assist with the bail application. Receiving assistance from our attorneys will simplify the process, as well as ensure the best possible outcome for you. Upon your request, our attorneys will be able to contact a friend or family member to notify them of the situation.
When requested to make a statement, we advise that you wait. Rather don’t make the statement at that time. This is allowed, and provides you with the much-needed time to be in a position, when sober, to write a calm, legally well-informed statement.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: BLOOD TESTS & BAIL
If you are arrested, the release time from custody to make bail will be dependent on whether or not you are a first-time offender (meaning you have no criminal record or outstanding warrants).
The state is required to obtain the credible evidence needed to successfully prosecute you, hence the reason for blood tests. However, certain requirements need to be adhered to. The blood can only be drawn by a medical officer of a prison, a district surgeon, a medical practitioner, or a registered nurse. Most importantly, the blood specimen must be drawn within two hours of being arrested.
If you are a first-time offender, you can apply for police bail. If this is not the case for you, there is a possibility for prosecutor’s bail, which is for more serious offences / repeat offenders. Otherwise, if bail at the police station was refused, you will be required to formally apply for bail at your first Court appearance.
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL CONSEQUENCES?
No matter if you are a first-time offender or not, there will always be consequences. The level of severity is what will differ.
In short, if you are found guilty of driving while intoxicated, it will result in a criminal record against your name. Furthermore, a suspended license, fine and/or imprisonment are possible consequences you will be facing.
If you are to make a court appearance, Louw & Coetzee Attorneys can assist in the representation, on your behalf, to the public prosecutor. Our attorneys’ role will be to persuade the state, based on humanitarian and other grounds, that you should not be further prosecuted for a first offence, and that the case should be diverted.
Should the state be willing to consider a diversion, a social worker will have an interview with you to confirm your eligibility for diversion and, if diversion is confirmed by the social worker, the state will withdraw the case against you.
Diversion programs will differ based on the violation. In the case of drunk driving, the diversion program will generally consist of classes on how to effectively manage alcohol consumption and, in some instances, community service. So long as you diligently complete the diversion program, the state will not reinstate the charges against you. Once the diversion program is completed, you will have no criminal record reflected against your name.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having been pulled over while over the legal limit, we advise that you contact our attorneys on 063 682 5811 / 082 734 9230 for specialised legal assistance.
For more information or assistance, kindly contact Hannelie van Niekerk at 082 734 9230 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.