National Road Traffic Amendment Bill public participation re-opened

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport has re-opened the public participation process regarding the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, 2020.

The Committee’s website states: “This is a second call for submission on this bill (the previous ran from 26 October to 20 November). The Committee noted that over 6 900 submissions had been received but this was a small number relative to the driving population who would be affected by the Bill. The Committee agreed that the Bill should be more widely advertised, including on radio.”

JPSA points out that the last time driving licence holder statistics were published was in March 2017. As of 28 February 2017, there were 12 283 777 licensed drivers in South Africa.

Considering that the RTMC has repeatedly said that around a half a million new drivers join the driving population annually, it is possible that the current number of licensed drivers is approaching 14 million.

This means that during the last public consultation round, approximately 0.05% of the driving population made submissions to the Committee. This is somewhat ironic, considering that the Bill proposes to remove the below 0,05mg/100ml (0,05%) blood sampled alcohol limit and replace it with a zero level.

JPSA made its submission to the Committee on 20 November 2020. Its submission can be found here.

“It is and remains our view that what is needed for instances of driving under the influence of alcohol (“DUI”) to be effectively reduced is for proper enforcement and prosecution to become the norm,” said JPSA Chair, Howard Dembovsky.

“Whether there is a ‘limit’ or not is irrelevant. No court will convict anyone of this criminal offence if proper forensic evidence is not put before it,” he continued.

Although tens of thousands of motorists are arrested for the crime each year and no statistics are provided by the NPA, it is a known fact that the conviction rate for DUI is extremely low.

“It is our view that removing the alcohol limit entirely will only serve to drive arrests up and the conviction rate down,” Dembovsky lamented. “Although being arrested is a horrible experience, it does not have the same deterrent effect as incurring a criminal record does,” he contends.

“If the conviction rate for DUI was close to 100%, I can guarantee you that few people would take the risk, but that will only happen if evidence is put before the courts,” he concluded.

JPSA welcomes this extension and encourages motorists to make submissions on the Bill to the Committee before the new closing date (20 January 2021). Dear South Africa has reopened its user-friendly public submission portal at https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/road-traffic/ for those who wish to easily make submissions.