03 Jul Your Rights when dealing with a LASTMA official
Can LASTMA officials arrest me?
LASTMA officials, like other law enforcement agents have the power to arrest individuals who are suspected of committing road offences. If a LASTMA official, arrests you for a road traffic offence; you can either:
- Accept liability and pay the summary fine, or
- Contest the charge and ask for a trial by a court of competent jurisdiction
The LASTMA laws do not give them the power of detention, only arrest. So if a LASTMA official arrests you, and you contest the charge, the official must either:
- Present you before a competent court immediately (presumably a Traffic Court or Special Offences court), or
- Take you to a police station to be detained prior to being charged to court
Any powers of arrest exercised by a LASTMA official are subject to the Right to Personal Liberty guaranteed by Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution specifically as it concerns- right to a legal practitioner, and right to be brought before a court within a reasonable time. The right to personal liberty should not be taken for granted, so if you believe that your right has been trampled upon, and you would like to take action, please contact a lawyer.
What tests can LASTMA conduct for intoxication?
LASTMA officials have the power to conduct breath, blood, and urine tests for alcohol levels of drivers. As of present, there are no reported instances of LASTMA officials exercising this power, and so we have no precedent for the procedure. Further, there are no enabling laws for the use of breath testing equipment by LASTMA. However, using internationally approved standards, LASTMA would have to follow these steps:
- Step 1: Detain the individual in order to administer the test
- Step 2: Inform the person of the need to obtain a breath, blood, or urine test.
- Step 3: If the individual refuses to consent to the test, the LASTMA official will have to obtain a warrant or court order in order to forcibly conduct the test.
- Step 4: If the individual consents to the test, the LASTMA official would direct a qualified medical practitioner to conduct the required test.
- Step 5: Upon confirmation of the test results, the LASTMA official will then proceed to take the necessary steps to either inform the individual of the alleged commission of the offence of driving while under the influence of alcohol; or release the individual.
The obtaining of blood, breath, and urine samples borders on the Fundamental Human Rights of individuals, so if you believe a LASTMA official has erroneously exercised this power, you will need to contact your lawyer. Or you can read this article on- how to complain about a LASTMA official
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.