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New SA law: 0% blood-alcohol limit for drivers

South Africa’s strict new drunk driving laws may be in effect from as soon as June 2020, including a zero-tolerance 0% legal blood-alcohol limit, and far harsher punishments for those found guilty.

The Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) says it supports the this zero-tolerance approach to drunk driving; that it will be illegal for motorists to drink and drive at all.

This legislation law forms part of the controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act signed into law last year.

Dr Leana Olivier, the CEO of FARR, says the zero-tolerance law will help put an end to the confusion around the legal blood-alcohol limit.

The Aarto Act will also introduce a driver demerit system which could see motorists lose their driving licences for repeated traffic offences.

Olivier says roadblocks and other checking points are expected to be implemented to enforce the new law.

Serious measures are going to be put in place with roadblocks and apparently checking points at various other sections. It is going to be enforced. The public need to take note.

Dr Leana Olivier, CEO – Foundation for Alcohol Related Research

The City of Cape Town has said that local and provincial government will legally oppose the implementation of the Aarto Act in the Western Cape.

RELATED: City of Cape Town is better off without Aarto Act, says JP Smith

The drink-drive situation currently

As it currently stands, the National Road Traffic Act (NRA) still allows those who have consumed alcohol to get behind the wheel, provided, of course, that they are under the blood alcohol limit.

For the average driver, the concentration of alcohol in any blood specimen must be less than 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres. This law currently allows for the consumption of (generally) one unit of alcohol per hour, which is all the human body can process in that time. 

So, if we’re talking about beer, at 5% alcohol content, then roughly two thirds of a bottle will equate to a unit. Likewise, 75ml of red or white wine, at 12% – 14% alcohol content, equals a unit. With harder liquor, such as whiskey or brandy, just a single 25ml tot equates to a full unit of alcohol. 

It’s worth noting, however, that much of this depends on your own weight. The less you weigh, the more time you’ll need to process alcohol. 

But, according to Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, this is all scheduled to change. 

A total of 24,827 drunk drivers were arrested by police for drunk driving over the festive season, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced last week.

During a media briefing on festive road stats, Cele told reporters that alcohol consumption was at the centre of most crime.

Source: Cape Talk

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