The timing of roadblocks, often during peak traffic hours, before holidays or over long weekends, can often lead to frustration due to the added delay. You need to remember that roadblocks exist to ensure the safety and well-being of all road users. Knowing your rights as a road user in South Africa will help you navigate your way through a roadblock in the most efficient way possible.
Here are some things to remember when approaching a roadblock:
Follow the police instructions. Pull over and present your driver’s licence or ID book if requested. Be respectful and polite when addressing or responding to the officers on duty, it’s their job to ask these questions.
You have the right to verify a roadblock
You have the right to verify the authenticity of the roadblock. You are entitled to request to see the written authorisation certificate signed by the National or Provincial Police Commissioner.
Know what you can be arrested for
You can only be arrested under certain circumstances (e.g. if you resist a breathalyser test the police have the right to detain you and have your blood tested.)
Police can also arrest you at a roadblock for unpaid fines but only if a warrant has been issued against you for those specific fines and the officers can present you with a valid copy of the document.
If your car isn’t roadworthy you can be stopped from driving any further
Officers can legally prevent you from continuing to use your car if it is not deemed roadworthy, simply because the vehicle is a risk to you and other road users. In some rare cases, motorists will be allowed to drive the car to their destination if it is a short distance ahead.
Follow the rules of the road and comply with the police and traffic officers on duty. The law is in place to protect us. Check back next week for some more things to remember when dealing with roadblocks.