FACT CHECK: Metro denies cellphone-using drivers will be arrested

web_photo_Beijing_smog2_071215

A view of an air quality monitoring app on a mobile phone showing PM2.5 concentration levels beyond the 500 index (500 micrograms per cubic meter) in Beijing, China, 01 December 2015. PM2.5 concentration refers to particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres.

A view of an air quality monitoring app on a mobile phone showing PM2.5 concentration levels beyond the 500 index (500 micrograms per cubic meter) in Beijing, China, 01 December 2015. PM2.5 concentration refers to particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres.

JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg metro police won't take your phone away from you if you're caught using it while driving, nor will they arrest you for not having your driving licence on you, but you will be fined.

This after a message did the rounds on social media warning people that those caught talking on their phones will have their devices confiscated and fined R2,500 – as well as warning if you don't have your driving licence you'll be taken into custody and fined R1,000.

But motorists have been urged motorists to minimise cellphone use while driving to save lives this festive season.

Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said cellphone use contributes heavily to the number of crashes on our roads.

“We advise motorists to park on the side of the road if they really have to use a phone. Another option would be getting a hands-free device to help avoid accidents.

“Cellphone use is a challenge. Officers are doing their best to address this, but we are also appealing to motorists to obey all the rules of the road and be responsible citizens,” said Minnaar.

Those found using their phones while driving are liable for a R500 fine. 

“Officers don’t confiscate the offender’s phone. We don't do that in Johannesburg,” he said.

The post allegedly came from a senior official in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. It states that offenders in the Eastern Cape would be liable for a fine of R2,500.

But Mayco member for Safety and Security in the metro, John Best said the information on the internet is mischievous as there was no such policy in place.

“Although it is illegal to talk on your cellphone while driving, there is currently no policy in place to confiscate the mobile phones of motorists. However, a person can be fined an amount of R750 according to the current municipal policy.”

The information is also incorrect to suggest that motorists driving without licences will be taken into custody.

“All I know is that a person driving without a driver's licence can only be arrested once a warrant of arrest has been issued.

"However, motorists are warned to refrain from doing illegal acts. If caught, the law will take its course with the relevant fines issued to offenders,” said Best.

– Additional reporting ANA