Phase 2 of drunk driving trial

An Umkomaas male, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, gave his testimony in court on August 25, in the second phase of his trial.

In Phase 1, in which the arresting officers had given their testimony, they had claimed that while on patrol in Pelican Road in Newhaven, Umkomaas, they had spotted a vehicle parked in the road in such a way that it obstructed the free flow of traffic.

On switching on their blue light and indicating to the driver that he should pull off the road, the driver did so, but then swerved back onto the road.

Suspecting that the driver might be drunk, the officers then approached the vehicle and asked the driver to step out of the car.

The officers testified that the driver smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet and became abusive when addressed. The accused refuted much of this testimony, giving a different version of events.

He stated that he and an uncle had spent the afternoon drinking vodka at the home of his daughter’s father-in-law. During the course of the afternoon, he had taken his inebriated uncle to his car, which was parked on the verge opposite the house, so that his uncle could sleep in the car.

At some time between 6pm and 7pm he had gone back to his car to check on his uncle and to retrieve his cigarettes from the cubbyhole.

While sitting in the driver’s seat, a K9 police car had arrived and on admitting to the police officers that he was drunk, they had asked him to drive his car to the Umkomaas Police Station.

When he refused to do so, as he was too drunk to drive the vehicle, the police accused him of being “cheeky” and called for a back-up vehicle to take him to the station.

At this point, the third member of the drinking party had left the house to find out what the problem was. In his testimony before the court, the witness said that when he had approached the police officers, he had been told to “shut up” or he would also be arrested and charged.

His daughter-in-law then left the house and asked her father for the car keys, which the accused indicated were in the side pocket of the driver’s door. The accused was then taken away in the police van.

The witness stated that at no time during these events had the car engine been switched on, as the police claimed, as he would have heard the engine noise if it had been running, and at no time did the car leave the spot in which it had been parked earlier that afternoon.

He denied the police officers’ claim that the car had been in the road at the time of their arrival, as he had had a clear view of the car from his lounge window all afternoon.

Magistrate Botha adjourned the hearing until September 11, when she will hear the summing up and will give her judgement in the case.

MSCRS Reporter

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