As festive fever grips, mainly young drivers, the temptation to drive under the influence of liquor is high.
The Road Traffic Act 93/96 of 1998 Sections 122, 126 and 149 are explicitly clear about the legal implications of driving a vehicle after guzzling the waters of intoxication.
The Acts forbids anyone from occupying the driver ’seat of a motor vehicle whose engine is running while under the stimulus of liquor or drugs.
The Act prescribes a maximum concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from any part of the body to be less than 0,05 grams per 100 millilitres of blood at any time within two hours of the offence.
The breathalyser tests stipulate an acceptable breath concentration of alcohol in any specimen of breath of the person concerned must be less than 0,24 milligrams per 1 000 millilitres of breath at any time within two hours of the offence.
Section 37 of the Criminal Law and Procedure Act empowers law enforcement officers with the right to sample blood without the consent of the perpetrator. A doctor or nurse is obliged by the same Act to determine the sobriety of the suspect upon receiving a police order known as an SAP308 from. A doctor or nurse faces common assault charges if he touches or introduces a needle into the body of a suspect without the form.
Below are some of the ethical issues surrounding the use of restraint or force:
- From a legal perspective, it is perfectly within the parameters of the law
- From a medical ethics perspective, a doctor shall never engage in violent acts in order to subdue a patient
- From the Constitutional angle, the use of force to subdue a person will be an infringement of that person’s rights
- If the doctor refuses to obey the police ordered SAP308, it may boil down to defeating the ends of justice.
Medical practitioners can still evaluate suspects without touching their bodies by observing the following:
- Clothing, this includes soiling, neatness, open fly and vomit present
- Facial redness or pallor
- Smell of alcohol
- Speech, slurring and stuttering
- Gait, such as stumbling
- Conjunctivae, or red eyes
- General behaviour, which includes swearing, euphoria or being out of control.
The judicial system still accepts observations by experienced police officers or medical practitioners as sufficient evidence of intoxication.
INFOGRAPHIC: Know your limit
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