Law enforcement scare on the N17

“I will ruin your future” and “I will lock you up right now.”

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The Bulletin News

Women are cautioned to be alert when traveling on the N17 especially if you are alone.
The area between Devon and Nigel offramps is of particular interest.
On Friday, June 8, Clarise* and two other girls were traveling on the N17 from Potchefstroom towards Secunda when they were pulled over by a police vehicle.
Clarise was traveling behind a cluster of cars and when they passed a bridge the police vehicle suddenly appeared behind them. The vehicle flashed its lights and Clarise moved out of the way into the left-hand lane when the road became double, to allow the police to pass.
The police vehicle increased speed and came behind Clarise and indicated that Clarise should stop.
Clarise didn’t know what to do and because she thought that there is something wrong she stopped as instructed.
A man in a police uniform then approached the vehicle and asked to see her license. She handed it over to him. He repeatedly asked if she had something to drink and that he could smell alcohol. She denied having anything to drink and was instructed to get out of the vehicle to do a breathalyzer test.
The man wanted Clarise to open her boot and wanted to search her vehicle. She noticed a second man standing at the passenger side. She replied that they could search her car as she had nothing to drink.
Suddenly the man changed his story, calling her a reckless driver and accusing her of driving at 160km/h. He indicated that he had a unit in his car that could tell the speed that she was driving and that she should get into his car.
When she refused the man started threatening her with “I will ruin your future” and “I will lock you up right now.” Clarise turned around, climbed back into her vehicle and just drove away. Everyone dreads being pulled over by the police but knowing your rights and remaining calm even if you are in the wrong, means you can make the best of a bad situation.
The only thing worse than being pulled off the road by a police officer is having a reason to be pulled over. Whether you have been naughty or nice you still have rights and there are laws in place that both you and law enforcement need to adhere to. Knowing your rights could help you to make an unpleasant experience more tolerable and keep your nerves intact.
There are a number of reasons you could find yourself face to face with a police officer. You could be stopped in a roadblock, asked to pull over while in motion, or involved in an accident or parking offense. Each situation has laws pertaining to your rights and the reach of the officers.
While a uniformed police officer has the right to stop you at any time, you don’t have to take their word for it that they are legitimate officers. You are entitled to ask the officer for proof of identity. They are required by law to carry their appointment certificate (identity card) at all times. The Criminal Procedure Act states that an officer who cannot or will not provide an appointment certificate on demand is in violation of the Act. If they refuse to produce their card you need to proceed with caution. You do not have to produce your license and or name and address but by doing this you may anger the individual and they could make life difficult. Tell them you will be happy to drive to a police station and or call the station to verify their legitimacy.
Sadly there are a number of criminals impersonating officers and if you have doubt they are legitimate roll down your window and tell them you will meet them at the police station. Criminals will usually speed off.
A traffic officer has the authority to demand your driver’s license, which by law must be kept on the driver’s person or in the vehicle. If you have left the license at home a police officer may give you the chance to show it to any police station within 7 days but it is not an “arrestable” offense.
In fact, the only traffic offenses that are criminal under the 2008 AARTO Regulations are:
• Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This also applies if you occupy the driver’s seat while under the influence, and the engine is running.
• Operating a vehicle recklessly.
• Exceeding the speed limit by 40km/h or more. This applies to the general speed limit, and speed limits prescribed by signs.
If an officer pulls you over and accuses you of speeding without any traffic monitoring equipment, and you know you were not speeding you can simply state this is not the case. They will not usually pursue it.
If you are stopped in a roadblock, traffic officers often imply that you must settle fines on the spot or face arrest. The fact is that they cannot arrest you for an outstanding traffic fine for which there is no warrant of arrest. They may, however, serve you with a summons to appear in court.
If a law enforcement official wants to arrest you, you should not resist even if you are on the right side of the law. Call a lawyer and get them to meet you at the police station.
Arbitrary search and seizure of your person, your property or possessions is not permitted unless there is a belief that you may have been involved in the committing of a crime and that a search warrant would be issued by a Magistrate or Judge in support of their beliefs.
If a roadblock has been set up for this purpose and prior permission is obtained they can search your vehicle.
If you are arrested, you must be taken directly to a police station with no detours. If you are held, then your case must be brought before a court within 48 hours of your detention. In most cases, you should be granted bail at the police station.
When it comes to accidents, there may not always be a police officer on the scene but if there is, it certainly helps to have your paperwork in order. There are hundreds of thousands of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and there are over 1 million accidents a year. While it is illegal to drive without a license, it is not a legal requirement to have vehicle insurance. The chances of being involved in an accident with an unlicensed, uninsured driver are high, so you need to protect yourself. Your insurance company will take care of the headaches so it’s worth the monthly investment.
In South Africa, it takes more than obeying the law to keep out of trouble. If you are respectful to officers, even if you have done no wrong, the situation should not escalate and you can continue your journey without any consequences. In other words, keep your head down and your fines up to date.
Information by: The Hollard Insurance Company. Ltd (Reg No 1952/003004/06) is an authorised Financial Services Provider.
* Not her real name

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