Arrive Alive

Drunk Driving and the Blood Test

Blood Test

The district surgeon, registered nurse or a prison medical officer will take a specimen of an arrested driver's blood, which is then submitted to a state laboratory for scientific analysis. The analysis enables an expert to ascertain the presence and estimated quantity of alcohol in the person's blood at the time of the examination. If the specimen is taken within two hours of the commission of the alleged offence then, if the alcohol concentration of the specimen is not less than 0,05g per 100ml, the alcohol concentration in the blood at the time of the alleged offence will be presumed to have been not less than 0,05g per 100ml. In terms of the amendment to the Road Traffic Act, the same presumption is made where the concentration of any alcohol in any specimen of breath exhaled by a person is not less than 0,38mg per 1000ml. However, the concentration in any breath specimen shall be ascertained by using the prescribed equipment. For this reason, the blood specimen will almost always be taken within two hours after the arrest.

A person arrested for one of the drink-and-drive offences is not entitled to refuse permission for a blood specimen to be taken. People authorised to take specimens are a medical officer of a prison, a district surgeon or, if requested to do so by a police official, a registered medical practitioner or a registered nurse.

Before the court can consider the results of the blood analysis, the state must prove that the analysis was made by an expert who had the necessary skill and that the specimen analysed was that of the accused. This is almost always done by means of an affidavit by the expert who performed the analysis. If the accused decides to challenge the facts contained in the affidavit, the expert may be called to give oral evidence.

If the specimen was contaminated in any way, the results of the analysis might not coincide with the actual alcohol concentration in the blood. For this reason precautions will be taken to prevent, for instance, the cleaning of the syringe or skin with alcohol. The Road Traffic Act, however, creates a presumption that once evidence of the analysis of the specimen is presented, it is presumed that the syringe used for obtaining the specimen and the receptacle in which the specimen was sent for analysis were not contaminated by something that could have affected the result. It is then for the accused to prove the contrary. (This presumption, however, goes against the presumption of innocence specified in the bill of rights and would thus probably not be relied upon by the state in a prosecution.) mens rea in the form of culpa (negligence) is an element of these offences. (See criminal liability or responsibility.)

Therefore, if an accused claims to have been unaware of having imbibed alcohol and if a reasonable person in a similar position would also not have known of this, it will be regarded as a valid defence.

An arrested driver can request that his or her medical practitioner be present when the blood specimen is taken.

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

The Boksburg gas tanker explosion and the transportation of hazardous goods

The Boksburg gas tanker explosion and the transportation of hazardous goods

When a truck carrying highly flammable products like propane, butane, or other liquid petroleum gases is involved in a collision, it can be incredibly dangerous. These types of products are known to be highly explosive, and a collision can easily cause a fire or even an explosion. Approaching, watching,

Read More

Road Safety & Pedestrian distractions while walking in traffic

Road Safety & Pedestrian distractions while walking in traffic

Background information: Road Safety authorities often create awareness of the dangers of distractions to drivers and neglect to focus on the distractions facing pedestrians as well. We are now finding more and more accidents as a result of pedestrian inattentiveness. These are not merely resulting

Read More

Safe Driving on Corrugated and Washboard Roads

Safe Driving on Corrugated and Washboard Roads

Introduction With South Africa having the 10th largest road network in the world, and about 600,000 km of unpaved and gravel roads, road users can expect to find many different road conditions. Some of these gravel roads might not be smooth - these roads are known as corrugated or washboard roads. On

Read More

The Emergency First Aid Kit and Safety on the Road

The Emergency First Aid Kit and Safety on the Road

We should always do our best to be prepared to respond to any emergency. Even though we may not be trained medical professionals there are often small bits of assistance we can provide with first aid and effective and fast response to smaller emergencies. We always advise motorists to travel with

Read More

Motorcyclists and Safely Sharing the Roads with Trucks

Motorcyclists and Safely Sharing the Roads with Trucks

Motorcyclists are at constant risk, operating their motorcycles for recreational rides and business commuting. The condition of our roads, and traffic congestion, pose a very dynamic threat to life on two wheels. Trucks are even more so, especially when the roadworthiness of the truck, the competency

Read More

Trucking Wellness & HIV Treatment

Trucking Wellness & HIV Treatment

Introduction Trucking Wellness (TW) is an initiative of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry (NBCRFLI), which was launched in 1999. The aim of Trucking Wellness is to provide primary healthcare to those employed within the Road Freight and Logistics (RFL)

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All