S v LOURENS 2016 (2) SACR 624 (WCC)


Traffic offences — Driving under influence of liquor — Contravention of s 65(1) of National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 — Sentence — Suspension of driver’s licence — Circumstances to be taken into account — Include personal circumstances of accused and interests of community.


The accused was convicted in a magistrates’ court of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in contravention of s 65(1) of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 (the Act). He was sentenced to a fine and his driver’s licence was suspended for six months. This was despite the fact that the accused was a first offender and required a licence in order to perform his work. On review,

Held, having regard to the wording of the tariff of mandatory sentences in s 35 of the Act after its amendment by the National Road Traffic Amendment Act 64 of 2008, that the ‘circumstances relating to the offence’ included the personal circumstances of the accused and the interests of the community and were not limited only to those circumstances relating to the commission of the offence itself.

Held, further, that the magistrate, although having had regard to the provisions of s 35 of the Act, had failed to take account of the personal circumstances of the accused, including that he required his driver’s licence for his work; that he was a first offender; and that there was no injury or accident caused by his offence. Given that he was gainfully employed and ran the risk of losing his employment in difficult economic times if the court confirmed the suspension of his licence, the sentence was unduly harsh. The order of the magistrate that the accused’s licence be suspended was accordingly deleted from the sentence imposed by the magistrate.


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