What happens when you get pulled over for drunken driving

With all the year-end functions and various social events to attend throughout the holiday season, one is bound to have a drink or two and get behind the steering wheel of a vehicle. You must however, while enjoying your alcoholic beverage, remember the old adage of “one’s the limit, two’s the law” (author’s note: not actual legal advice!).

Having your vehicle pulled over by the traffic authorities, whilst suspecting that you may be intoxicated and/or over the legal limit, can be harrowing. But being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving will definitely be a life changing experience, and not a good one.

Not only can your initial detainment in the police station’s holding cells or dealing with a protracted criminal case against you be extremely traumatising, the secondary consequences of your actions, such as having your driver’s licence suspended, having to pay a fine, getting a criminal record or being imprisoned, should serve as a deterrent from overindulging in the festivities.

The current legal alcohol limit is 0,05g/100ml and this limit is easily exceeded by a normal individual after as few as two standard beers.

When you are pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving you may be subjected to a breathalyser test at the discretion of the relevant official. The breathalyser test is performed by a traffic or police officer and you may not refuse to be subjected to such a test. Bear in mind that drunken driving charges relate to driving on a public road and cover both actual driving as well as being in the drunken condition while occupying the driver’s seat of a vehicle, the engine of which is running.

If you fail the breathalyser test you will be taken into custody and transported to an alcohol testing centre where a blood sample will be taken from you by a registered nurse. Your blood sample will be securely stored and transported by the police to a laboratory for further testing.

After your blood sample is taken you will be transferred to a police station for processing. A docket will then be opened and an investigating officer will be designated to your case file that will also follow up on your blood test results. You may be detained in the police station’s holding cells for a period of time (usually about 4-5 hours or longer depending on the circumstances) in order for you to sober up. You will also be allowed to make a telephone call to family, friends or to your legal representative.

Depending on the circumstances of each case and the charges brought against you, which may also include reckless or negligent driving, amongst others, you may either be released or further detained pending your first appearance in court. If you are detained you will have to apply for bail.

If you are released by the officer at the police station you will be required to pay the bail amount, which varies between R500 and R1000 depending on jurisdiction. Your vehicle will be returned to you once you have been processed and paid the bail amount.

In conclusion, we advise that you avoid such a situation by enjoying yourself responsibly, alternatively that you make prior arrangements for someone to drive you to where you want to go. However should you find yourself in a predicament of this nature or if you have any queries on this subject please contact the offices of Gerhard Lourens Incorporated for assistance on 013 755 2080.

  AUTHOR
Lowvelder

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