Traffic officers will be looking for these things if they pull you over this Easter break – these are your rights

The roads will be busier than usual throughout the Easter long weekend, where traffic and police officials will undoubtedly make their presence known.

The main reason for this is the somber statistics (often) linked with these particularly busy periods of the year, including the festive holiday season, writes classified advertisements and community website Gumtree.

Using statistics before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the country (from 18 – 21 April 2019), there were a total of 80 fatalities. During the same period, Limpopo recorded the most fatalities with 27, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (21), Gauteng (12), Mpumalanga (14), Eastern Cape (9), Western Cape (9), North West (8), Free State (2) and Northern Cape (2).

Despite warnings, many motorists continue to drive under the influence, and it is then that they pose a risk to themselves, passengers, and other road users. In addition, the wet weather also plays a part in reaction times, mechanical performance, and visibility (ie, fog, mist, rain).

Gumtree lists the things that traffic officers will most likely check if you happen to be pulled over in a (routine) roadblock:

  • The validity of your driving license card and vehicle license disk.
  • If you are wearing a seatbelt.
  • Conduct a breathalyzer test (according to SAPS, your blood may not have an alcohol content of more than 0.05%)
  • Checking a vehicle’s roadworthiness (legal tire depth, lowered suspension etc)
  • Dangerous driving includes speeding, reclessness, and overtaking on barrier lines.

There have been instances where motorists reported unfair treatment by law enforcement officials so it is important to know what your rights are as a motorist and that of a traffic officer. Here they are:

Law enforcement officials may not:

  • Physically or verbally abuse you or damage your property.
  • Search your person or property without a warrant except at a roadblock or where reasonable grounds to do so exist, or you consent to a search.
  • Solicit a bribe.
  • Force you to pay traffic fines at the roadside, even if a facility such as a bus is there for you to do so.
  • Withhold the prompt return of your driving license in order to coerce you into paying outstanding traffic fines where no warrant of arrest exists or your driving license card is not fraudulent.
  • Discontinue or impound your vehicle without reasonable grounds.

You as the motorist may:

  • Demand to have sight of their certificate of appointment (a card authorizing them to act as a peace officer).
  • Demand that any law enforcement official shows you written authorisation as is contemplated in Section 13(8) of the SAPS Act at a roadblock.
  • Demand to see proof of a warrant of arrest if one is claimed to exist.
  • Refuse to submit to arbitrary searches of your person or property at a ‘roadside check’, unless reasonable grounds therefore exist.

‘I know my rights!’ or trying to tell them how to conduct their job is the worst thing you can say to a law enforcement officer. Although this should not be the case, it can and frequently does lead to abusive behaviour, Gumtree said.

Read: Final driving license extension for South Africa


Leave a Comment