No-one feels relaxed when they encounter a roadblock, but as inconvenient as they may seem, roadblocks exist to ensure the safety and well-being of all road users, especially during peak traffic hours, holiday periods and over weekends.
Knowing your rights as a road user as well as the best approach to dealing with the situation is critical in South Africa especially with the festive season fast approaching!
According to Advocate Jackie Nagtegaal from Law for All, many of their policyholders call in for legal advice on their rights when it comes to traffic infringements.
Nagtegaal said: "All road users should drive safely and obey the law, but while you do have to pay your debt to society if you break the law, it is important to know what your options are if issued a fine unfairly or you feel your rights have been violated."
Motorist: "I’ve been pulled over in a roadblock, and it’s quite intimidating. What should I know?"
Nagtegaal: "Be sure to obey any instructions or signals from officers as you approach a roadblock. Once you have stopped, gather your driver’s licence and ID, as you will likely be asked for them by an official.
It definitely helps to be polite to the officer on duty as being cooperative will expedite the process, and it is well within your legal right to ask for the roadblock’s certificate of authentication that is signed by either the National or Provincial Police Commissioner.
The officers will then inspect your vehicle to determine whether or not is it roadworthy; if it isn’t, you could be legally prevented from continuing on your journey since you’re a danger to yourself and other motorists. Always keep in mind that driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious violation. If you are suspected of driving under the influence and refuse to take a breathalyser test, the police can still legally detain you and will have your blood tested.
Lastly, if you intentionally and unlawfully violate the dignity of an officer, you could be taken into custody. For example, any racial slurs, hate speech or actions that prevent the officer from doing their job could land you in hot water. Conversely, if you believe that an official is abusing their authority or violating you with inappropriate language or conduct, you can report the officer to the SAPS (try and get a badge number to help your case). You also have the right to film any incident at a roadblock- this is a good way to document any potentially unlawful behaviour from the police.
Everyone keep safe this long weekend on our roads!