On the eve of the festive season, the Road Traffic Management Corp (RTMC) is pushing for tougher action against those arrested for drunk driving - including making them spend at least seven days behind bars before they can be considered for bail.
In a new policy proposal to the department of justice, the RTMC asks that driving under the influence (DUI), speeding and reckless or negligent driving be reclassified in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act.
The RTMC wants the department to change DUI from a schedule 2 to a schedule 5 offence, which would mean that motorists arrested for it would receive harsher treatment from the courts.
The proposal recommends that DUI suspects be treated in the same way as those accused of serious crimes such as rape, murder, theft and fraud.
At present, many of those arrested for DUI can be granted bail by the police within hours of being taken into custody.
Makhosini Msibi, CEO of the RTMC, said the law needed to be tightened to fight the scourge of DUI, which he said was the leading cause of road accidents and fatalities, especially during the holiday season.
Compulsory day in court
"We have engaged the department of justice and continue to do so with a view to redefine the traffic offences," he said.
"We want drunk driving to be schedule 5 as opposed to schedule 2.
"Currently, if we arrest you for drunk driving you can be granted bail in terms of section 59 of the Criminal Procedure Act, and the senior person at the police station can offer bail.
"But if we then escalate it to schedule 5 or schedule 6, it should be a formal bail application [in court].
"Above all, it must not be automatic, you must spend seven days before you can bring the application for bail," Msibi said.