Many people have a vague idea of the consequences of drunk and unlicensed driving – and some do not have a clue!! The Arrive Alive website received an email from a visitor wishing to enquire about this topic, and we believe it is appropriate to share the very direct and strongly motivated response from our experts!
I have questions I cannot find the answers for, and would appreciate if you could shed some light on the following (and also where i can find official documentation on it):
If you are caught driving without a license, is it possible to stay at the vehicle and call a relative to fetch the license for you to prove that you do own a legal license?
If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol (above the limit) and your co-driver is sober, would it be possible to swop drivers (after being caught) and drive home safely?
And what is the fine for driving under the influence? Is it a given that you MUST be arrested, or would it be possible for the police officer to write out a fine and phone a buddy to collect you / let some-one else drive you home.
Where can I get more clarity on the above?
I must say that I was a little taken aback by your questions as it would seem to suggest that you or someone you know either drives without carrying a valid driving licence or worse yet, drives under the influence of alcohol. Your questions do however beg an answer and please understand where I am coming from.
1. If you are caught driving without a license, is it possible to stay at the vehicle and call a relative to fetch the license for you to proof that you do own a legal license?
(a) The simple answer is that anyone operating a motor vehicle is required by law – the National Road Traffic Act Sect. 12(b)to be precise, to carry their driving licence with them at all times whilst operating a motor vehicle.
(b) Not having it with you will entitle a traffic officer to fine you for not being in possession of a valid driving licence for the class of vehicle you are operating – i.e. not having a licence at all, with an alternative charge of failing to carry your driving licence for that class of vehicle with you.
(c) Even if you call for someone to bring your licence to you, you can and probably will be fined for not carrying it, and rightly so.
(d) To further clarify this, do you think that an ATM will give you money if you don’t have your ATM card with you?
Then why would one think that you can drive without carrying your driving licence with you?
2. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol (above the limit) and your co-driver is sober, would it be possible to swop drivers (after being caught) and drive home safely?
(a) Forgive me for asking but are you serious?
(b) If you have a co-driver instead of an unlicensed passenger with you, and they are sober, surely common sense dictates that it should have been that person, not you that was driving and therefore you should not have landed in this situation.
(c) To ask if after you were caught committing the criminal offence of driving under the influence of alcohol you would be allowed to simply go home with your sober friend is ridiculous. No you would not!
3. And what is the fine for driving under the influence?
(a) As mentioned previously, this offence is a criminal offence. The last of your worries should be how much the fine is, but to answer your question, it can be up to R120,000 or imprisonment, or both and it will also involve the suspension of your driving licence plus a permanent criminal record.
4. Is it a given that you MUST be arrested, or would it be possible for the police officer to write out a fine and phone a buddy to collect you / let some-one else drive you home?
(a) Yes it is most certainly a given that you MUST be arrested.
(b) There is no admission of guilt fine for this criminal offence, just like there is none for murder.
(c) You also must be taken for a blood or Dräger test.
(d) You also must be taken to a police station, detained in cells, fingerprinted, charged with the criminal offence of driving under the influence of alcohol, possibly but not necessarily be granted and pay bail and be summonsed to appear before a magistrate in court.
(e) If you are convicted, refer to 3(a) above.
(f) Please note that exactly the same applies for driving under the influence of drugs, just in case you were thinking of “why drink and drive when you can smoke and fly?”
(g) “Phone a buddy to collect you” instead of driving and all of this can easily be avoided.
With all due respect, if you are asking these questions for yourself or anyone that you may know, please understand that idiots who think it is clever to drive under the influence of any intoxicating substance are potential murderers and they will be treated as such. I also note that you seem to be concerned about the consequences of being caught drink driving instead of even considering what damage and heartache would be caused when an intoxicate driver ploughs into some other poor innocent sole on the road with them. If you really want to kill someone, go and get a gun – at least then people will know that you want to kill or maim them.
If you are based anywhere near Johannesburg, I would like to invite you or whomever it is that you are asking these questions for to please contact me as soon as possible so we may arrange a shift with a paramedic unit, a stint in a trauma ward and a shift at a mortuary so as to cure this problem before you or whomever it is ends up requiring the services of any of the three or worse yet, causes someone else to require them?
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa
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