Less alcohol tests done on drivers during past festive season

WINDHOEK: Only 130 alcohol tests on motorists were done during the 2013/2014 festive season period, compared to 5 027 tests during the 2012/2013 period.

Chief Traffic Coordinator of the Traffic Law-Enforcement Division at the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), Deputy Commissioner Ralph Ludwig issued the statistics during a de-briefing session about the festive season road safety campaign here on Wednesday.

The Motor-Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund, National Road Safety Council and the Namibian Police collaboratively wrapped up the festive season road safety campaign which took place from 22 November 2013 to 15 January 2014.

“The Heads of the operations directorate and traffic law-enforcement division of NamPol were directed to visit roadblocks countrywide and to monitor traffic flow on critical dates. Between 02 December 2013 and 08 December 2013, drink-and-driving patrols were done, while patrols for drink-and-driving as well as overtaking were done between 30 December 2013 and 05 January 2014, respectively,” he stated.

Only 30 summonses for drinking and driving were issued to motorists during the 2013/2014 festive season period, compared to 221 during the 2012/2013 period.

Meanwhile, Namibia is no longer making use of breathalysers to test drivers’ alcohol levels, and has now reverted to the old system of drawing blood samples.

This followed after the State’s application for leave to appeal a breathalyser test ruling delivered in the Swakopmund Regional Court during 2013 was dismissed by Windhoek High Court Acting Judge Nicholas Ndou.

The regional court ruling was in favour of a local lawyer, Raymond Heathcote, who was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, alternatively driving with an excessive breath alcohol level.

Heathcote challenged the prosecution to prove that the breathalyser device used to measure his breath alcohol level was in a working condition and reliable, saying that he blew into the device three times and it recorded zero.

Heathcote further challenged the State to prove that the regulation in terms of which the Minister of Works and Transport approved the instruments to be used as breathalysers complied with certain sections of the Road Traffic and Transport Act.

Regional Magistrate Gaynor Poulton ruled that the Government Notice of 2003 in which the then Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Moses Amweelo specified which breath alcohol measurement devices can be used in Namibia in terms of the Road Traffic and Transport Act, did not conform to the Act, and as a result is invalid.