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Wednesday / 29 June 2022
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Zero alcohol when driving – New law will go ahead

The new rule that a driver in South Africa must have absolutely zero alcohol in their system when driving will go ahead as planned.

This is according to a report by BusinessTech, which referenced the Department of Transport.

The new rule is part of the planned National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, which is set to come into effect in June 2021.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the bill will “introduce the total prohibition of the use and consumption of alcohol by all motor vehicle operators on South African public roads”.

Currently, the legal limit for drivers is a blood alcohol concentration of under 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres.

For professional drivers this limit is lower, at 0.02 grams per 100 millilitres.

The new rule will see this limit fall to 0.00 grams per 100 millilitres.

Standing firm

The report from BusinessTech stated the department is “standing firm” on its decision to launch the zero-alcohol rule.

The department cited data from the Road Traffic Management Corporation as a motivating factor, which revealed that drunk driving accounts for 27.1% of fatal crashes in the country.

It went on to dismiss concerns from stakeholders – including the AA – that the new rule will “criminalise innocent motorists and is unlikely to have the results authorities think it will”.

“These proposed changes are concerning on a number of levels and although the stated reason for the change is the promotion of road safety, within the current framework of traffic law enforcement, nothing will change, except that innocent drivers are likely to be criminalised,” said the AA.

An example of a scenario in which this could happen is someone who has taken medication which contains alcohol, and then drives a car, added the AA.

The department countered this by stating: “A lot of cough medicines contain warning leaflets that advise people against the consumption of the medication if they will be operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery.”

The introduction of 24/7 traffic policing and the use of the Evidential Breathalyser Alcohol Test will be used to enforce the regulations, stated the department.

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