Alcostester challenges take their breath away

CAPE ARGUS

TWO more alleged drunken-driving offenders are expected to challenge the accuracy of the Drager Alcotester, following Thursday’s acquittal of an alleged offender, the second awarded. Alleged offender Brian Popple, 26, pleaded not guilty in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. Last week, Albertus Bernadus Malan van Niekerk, 29, of Table View, was acquitted in the same court after disputing the accuracy of the Drager Alcotester, a sophisticated mechanism newly in use that measures the alcohol vapour in an alleged offender’s breath. Popple, who had a Drager breath reading of 1.30mg per 1000ml, was found not guilty of drunken driving, and not guilty of driving with a breath count in excess of 0.24mg. People’s defence attorney Keith Gess put the onus on the state to prove the Drager’s accuracy. This could be done only with testimony by either of the country’s two Drager experts – one in Durban and the other in Pretoria. The other alleged offenders are Bridgette Theunissen and Charles Bergman, who appeared on Thursday. Bergman’s case was postponed to June 4, and Theunissen’s to August 14. A Cape Town Unicity spokesperson said it was at the discretion of control officers at road blocks to decide whether a suspect’s condition justified a blood test.