Drunk Driving in South Africa - Laws

Drunk driving in South Africa is not to be taken lightly and drinking and driving is a very serious offence. The gravity of drunken driving charges should be enough to frighten anyone away from driving drunk, but there can also be far more grave repercussions that can occur when drivers don’t watch their blood alcohol limit – these can be fatal consequences.

Drive South Africa have joined the IPledge Movement against drunk driving.

Are you familiar with the South African drunk driving laws? Do you know when you are beyond the limit? Do you understand what charges can be levied against you if your blood alcohol limit is beyond what it should be?

Above: Don’t practice drunk driving in South Africa by Konrad Baranski

Detecting drunk driving in South Africa

Blood Alcohol Limits

The South African Road Traffic Act 93/96 has been in effect since March 1998. Whether you are driving in your home town or on roads foreign to you in a car hire vehicle, these laws are extremely important to obey. These laws are in place to help protect the community and to make sure that drunk drivers are reprimanded.

• The legal blood alcohol limit in South Africa is less than 0.05 g per 100 ml
• The legal breath alcohol limit in South Africa is less than 0.24 mg in 1000 ml of breath

In simple terms, this means that 2 drinks over the space of 1 hour will put you over the limit. Below is a breakdown of alcohol units per drink type:

• 1 x 75 ml glass of wine = 1 unit
• 1 x 250 ml glass of wine = 3.3 units
• 1 x shot/shooter = ½ unit in most instances
• 1 x spirit cooler = about 1.25 units
• 1 x beer = 1.5 units or possibly more
• 1 x cider = 2 units
• 1 x 25 ml tot of spirits = 1 unit
• 1 x cocktail = Between 2 and 4 units

Source: Drunk Driving Laws in South Africa

1 unit is equal to 0.02g blood alcohol

It takes your body approximately 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol. Ideally, after drinking any alcohol you should avoid getting into the driver’s seat of your car, but at least this way you can work out how long it takes for the alcohol to leave your system.

According to Dr Charles Parry of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Group under the Medical Research Council (MRC) 40% of drivers who die on the road have alcohol levels in excess of .08 gms / 100 ml.

Local Drunk Driving Laws in South Africa

Any person driving on South African roads should be familiar with the local drunk driving laws in South Africa. Here’s a summary of the laws to make it easier for you:

1. No person on a public road shall –

Occupy a driver’s seat of a motor vehicle, the engine of which is running, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect.

2. No person on a public road shall –

Occupy a driver’s seat of a motor vehicle, the engine of which is running, while the concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from his or her body is not less than 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres.

3. The two-hour rule –

According to the National Traffic Act 1996, if in any prosecution for a contravention of the provisions of subsection (2), it is proved that the concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from any part of the body of the person concerned was not less than 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres at any time within two hours after the alleged offence, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that such concentration was not less than 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres of blood at the time of the alleged offence.

Implications of Being Caught Drunk Driving in South Africa

Perhaps you’ve been “lucky” up to now and you have not been caught drinking and driving; because you think that you are capable of driving drunk. But what are the implications if you do get caught?

If you’re found guilty of drunk driving in South Africa you could face up to 6 years in jail. You could also be liable for fines of up to R120 000 and your driver’s license may be suspended. You will also have a criminal record which can have serious ramifications for the rest of your life. Of course, the worst case scenario is that you could kill someone else on the road, your loved ones or yourself.

Solution to drunk driving in South Africa

There is some good news for those folks who are out on the town and find they’re unable to drive home. If you’re worried about driving your vehicle back to your hotel drunk (which you should be), ask Drive South Africa to book you a car with a supplier partnered with a designated driver service. This means that you won’t have to drive your car rental when intoxicated and breach your car hire contract.

Source: Responsible car hire

Please, don’t practise drunk driving in South Africa. Drive responsibly on our roads.