Cape Town goes hi-tech in pursuit of drunk drivers

A vehicle fitted with equipment duplicating the city’s Vangate Alcohol Evidence Centre will help in the crackdown on drunk drivers.
Picture: Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works

Cape Town has unveiled the latest weapon in the city’s arsenal to catch intoxicated motorists over the festive season – a state-of-the-art drunk driver detection vehicle.

Known as the Mobile Alcohol Evidentiary Unit‚ the repurposed emergency services vehicle is the first of its kind in South Africa.

MEC for transport and public works Donald Grant said the vehicle would enable authorities to do “rapid on-the-spot checks to determine whether a driver is under the influence‚ while increasing the likelihood of a successful prosecution.

“On-the-spot testing makes it possible to release innocent suspects immediately. No blood testing is necessary. By removing the need for personnel to accompany suspects to distant testing centres‚ the technology also enables more law enforcement officials to be on duty at any time‚” he said in a statement on Friday.

The vehicle‚ refitted at a cost of about R400 000‚ features a Dräger alcohol testing device that meets all legislative requirements‚ video and sound recording equipment and computer software to capture driver’s details. The results of alcohol breath tests will be streamed to the city’s Vangate Alcohol Evidence Centre.

It is also fitted with gear to set up vehicle check points‚ portable alcohol screening devices‚ a generator and water supply.

Grant said the mobile unit was an exact duplicate of the city’s infrastructure inside the Vangate Alcohol Evidence Centre.

He said a significant number of drivers killed on provincial roads had consumed alcohol‚ as had pedestrians who had died.

“Too many motorists are still risking their own lives and the lives of others‚ by driving under the influence of alcohol. We must continue to do all we can to address the scourge of drinking and driving‚ and to prevent the senseless loss of life that results from such behaviour‚” he said.

The vehicle is being deployed on a pilot basis at various hotspots but would later be used across the province‚ he added.

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