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21 Rescission of Judgment II
20 Rescission of Judgment
19 Independence and Objectivity
18 Property lawyer or Conveyancer
17 Execution of a Judgment
16 Buying / Selling a Business
15 Small Claims Court
14 Legal things to do in 2012
13 Drunken Driving
12 Legal queries
11 Trusts – its all in the name
10 Due diligence – a basic tool in your business kit
9 Debt Collection - a professional approach
8 "I do?" – understanding the legal impact of getting married. 
7. Homes, castles and dreams
6. To sue or not to sue? Let's start with "how" to sue.
5. Knowledge helps – Wills and Administration of Deceased Estates
4. Paying it forward – pro bono support where it counts
3. Contracts - Prevention is better than cure
2. The prickly matter of legal costs
1. Success comes with small steps

Tel: 0027 (0)84 300 5763 
Fax: 086 605 8265 



Drunken driving – a sobering experience!

Being arrested for drunken driving is something you would rather avoid. Not only is dealing with the case against you very traumatising, but the knock-on consequences are significant.

The term "drunken driving" refers to two different criminal charges, namely:

• Driving while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug having a narcotic effect; and
• Driving while the concentration of alcohol in your blood or breath is over the specified limit.

Sometimes "reckless or negligent driving" and even "inconsiderate driving" may be included as charges.

Remember that the charges relate to driving on a public road and cover both actual driving, and also being in the drunken condition while occupying the driver's seat of a vehicle, the engine of which is running. Further people with a professional driver's permit have stricter limits within which their circumstances are evaluated.

Once arrested the accused driver must be brought to Court where the State, through a prosecutor, must prove a case beyond reasonable doubt in a trial. Processes like dealing with bail, investigation by the police and presentation of the case to the accused must take place. This can take place over several months if not longer.

Evidence is the foundation of a case. The Drager / Draeger breathalyser test has been very topical, but this is only one element of the possible evidence that may exist. There may be eye witness testimony, blood test results, video footage and other items of evidence. This is the gritty detail of a case, where it is won or lost, and where a lot of time is spent in preparation.

If there is not enough evidence to support the case then the Court must dismiss the case or acquit the accused. Alternatively the accused driver can admit their guilt. If the Court finds the accused guilty it will proceed to sentencing.

Sentences can range from a fine, suspension of your driver's licence or imprisonment. The Court may suspend these sentences for a period on the condition that you do not break the law again. Fines can be anywhere from a few hundred rands to several thousand and prison terms can be for a few months to years. It depends on the circumstances of each case.

Here are some common considerations when dealing with such cases:

• Does the police evidence prove the case against the accused;
• Was someone injured or property damaged as a result of the accused actions;
• Does the State have any witnesses and are they available to testify;
• Are there any compelling reasons why the State should not prosecute the case;
• Capacity to pay a fine or the impact of being sentenced to time in prison.

Aside from the legal issues related to this kind of criminal charge, a range of consequences arise.
Here are a few:

• Risking getting a criminal record, which stays with you for ten years;
• Explaining your absence from work because of the Court appearances;
• The loss of time for a self-employed person;
• Explaining your criminal record or need for time off to a potential employer;
• The risk to any professional status, in the context of being "fit and proper", and the associated economic impact;
• Where a vehicle or property is damaged having to deal with the insurance claim, any risk to insurance coverage, the associated economic issues and a potential civil case (read the fine print of your insurance policies in this regard);
• The risk connected to your studies as a student, applying for travel visas and other formal applications which enquire into your legal or health history;
• The trauma of dealing with any physical injury suffered by the accused or third parties;
• If the arrest is made in a town other than where you live, having the time and money to attend proceedings in that town's Court (for instance if you were on holiday);
• The legal costs should you decide to be represented by a private lawyer as opposed to a Legal Aid lawyer if you qualify for Legal Aid.

There is no magic bullet that makes a drunken driving charge go away. Every case is decided on its merits. A great deal depends on the parties involved, from the first contact with the police and prosecutor, through to judgment and sentencing, as the case may be.

Our advice is firstly to not get into this situation. If you are in this situation, keep your wits about you, don't act rashly or antagonise authorities. And lastly, make sure you get good legal advice or assistance early on.

From the team. MA Cooper Attorneys
With Energy and with Experience, giving you Expression


Contact details:
Email:        Tel: 0027 (0)84 300 5763        Fax: 086 605 8265        Web:
43 Balfour Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700 / PO Box 15298, Vlaeberg, 8018, South Africa

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