DUI

Scareware roadblock “warnings”

JOHANNESBURG – So-called “warnings” regarding roadblocks to be instituted by unnamed traffic law enforcement authorities have again been doing the rounds on social media, the most recent of which reads:

“Road block dates Dec 16 , 23. 30. All Friday’s. And through to Sat mornings. No mercy. One beer is over the limit. Jail till hearing Monday’s. Car will be impounded. If arrested. Min R 2000.00 to retrieve car if car is in road worthy condition. No outstanding fines and license up to date. Pass the word”.

This so-called “warning” is remarkably similar to another viral falsehood which did the rounds on social media around this time last year, claiming to have been authored by a political party councillor, wherein similar outlandish claims were made.

The threats which have originated from entities like the Road Traffic Management Corporation regarding extended periods of detention before trail and so-called “rescheduling” of this offence to Schedule 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act merely serve to exacerbate this disinformation and have clearly had a limited effect in deterring “drunken driving”.

Quite aside from the truly appalling grammar employed in authoring this particular scareware, many of the claims in it are without substance and are apparently designed to scare would-be “drunken drivers” into not taking a chance on the days in question by spreading garbage. Whilst it most certainly does not constitute “defeating the ends of justice” as has been claimed by some social media commentators, it can only have a limited effect since people have become desensitised to threats which generally amount to nothing.

Everyone should know by now that driving under the influence of intoxicating substances (alcohol or drugs) is extremely dangerous and accounts for a high percentage of road traffic injuries and deaths. No-one should be more concerned about being caught and prosecuted than they should be over causing a collision in which they, someone they care about or any other person could be injured or killed, but the fact still remains that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the most serious road traffic offences anyone can commit.

Particularly during the festive season, road traffic law enforcement authorities step up their efforts regarding driving under the influence of alcohol and in so doing seek to arrest and prosecute those who simply refuse to heed warnings and/or feel that the facts of human biology and toxicology do not apply to them.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol enforcement roadblocks and other operations do not only take place over weekends and public holidays. In the Western Cape “Random Breath Testing” has been in operation since July 2017 and in Johannesburg, daily alcohol enforcement operations take place in roadside stops all over the City. Both happen on a 24/7/365 basis. Encouragingly, other traffic law enforcement authorities are adopting a similar approach.

The days, times and locations of such operations cannot be “leaked” since they are planned and executed on the fly and have the effect of not causing huge traffic jams which tend to cause motorists to take a different route when the locations of massive roadblocks make their way onto live social media platforms like Twitter or even onto GPS navigation applications and devices which employ “live traffic” information.

The take-home message for all motorists should be that driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance is not only against the law, but is extremely dangerous and it is not worth taking a chance and trying to beat the odds. If those who can’t resist the temptation to spread “warnings” on social media really want to have a positive effect, then perhaps they should consider spreading this message:

“Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is extremely dangerous and could easily lead to injury or death. Alcohol enforcement operations can and do take place anytime, anywhere and if you are caught, you will face prosecution which will earn you 10-year criminal record if you are convicted. Be sensible. Don’t do it!”

Example social media messages: