Hi, I have a quick query. If you are detained for being over the legal limit of alcohol AND you are taken to be held in a holding cell, how long are you required to be there, is there a compulsory time period or are you able to be released one you have called a friend and they have come with the bail money, is there a need to be detained any further?
Also, if the police station has run out of “stationery” is it right for them to keep you detained for hours after even if you have the bail money? Surely that is prejudicial treatment to the one who is being detained because it is the stations’ mismanagement of their resources which has left the detained subject to suffer longer hours of detainment than is necessary.
And when giving blood, if you mention that you only allow YOUR medical practitioner to withdraw blood (before blood is drawn) and the ones drawing blood choose to not give you the option to call your medical practitioner, is that legal? I should think not.
Your question/s may have been “quick” to ask, but they are certainly not quick to answer. I shall however do my best to keep my answers short.
- When a person is arrested for alleged driving under the influence of alcohol, SAPS Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) dictate that such a person must be detained for a minimum period of four hours so they may sober up before being released. In reality however, this period is often in excess of twelve hours.
- A person who is detained for any criminal offence cannot simply be released until such time as the necessary documentation required to be contained in the docket has been completed and it is usually a detective that needs to complete such documentation.
- Whilst there are always detectives on duty, at night or over weekends, there are usually not as many detectives on duty as would be the case during “normal working hours”.
- I am not sure what you mean by the police station “running out of stationary” and therefore cannot comment on that beyond saying that if this were the case, one would think that your friend would have been detained until such time as he appeared before a court, or stationary was acquired.
- Persons who are detained after allegedly committing a crime must be brought before a court within 48 hours of their arrest, except where such a time would occur over weekends and public holidays. Where it does, they must be brought before a court on the next court day.
- The purpose of the above provision is for the arrested person to make an application for release on bail, however the Criminal Procedure Act further allows a policeman to grant bail to a detained person at any time before that. It does not however say how speedily they should do so, nor does it compel them to grant bail.
- Insofar as the drawing of a blood sample for evidentiary purposes goes, your friend, and everyone else for that matter, has no right to demand that their medical professional of choice draw their blood sample. Section 65(9) of the National Road Traffic Act also defines refusal to provide a breath and/or blood sample as a criminal offence and whilst I realise that your friend may not necessarily have entirely refused to provide a blood sample, that would not be helpful to his case.
- There is also a requirement in Section 65(3) of the National Road Traffic Act further requires that a blood sample be drawn within two hours of the alleged offence.
It is my view that lengthy detentions of any person accused of any non-violent crime are both, unnecessary and counter-productive and this practice should really be reviewed by SAPS management as a matter of urgency. Furthermore, whilst SAPS SOPs hold that intoxicated persons should be checked on regularly (once per hour), or more regularly (once every half an hour) if that person is severely intoxicated. In reality, this rarely happens as prescribed and even if it did, a person can drown in their own vomit in a matter of minutes if they are intoxicated to the extent that they are comatose.
Every case is different however and unfortunately, in this particular matter, it sounds to me like your friend’s behaviour towards police may have aggravated his position. Police men and women are human beings too and when people become uncooperative, and sometimes, combatant with them, it is very hard for them to resist the temptation to take longer to do something – thereby further inconveniencing the source of their frustrations, without breaking the law. The behaviour described in this story appears to indicate that your friend was obstructive towards police and this could most certainly have aggravated the situation and extended his detention, as opposed to helping the situation.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)