Drunk Driving drunk driver

Photo: Pixabay

Zero-tolerance: Mbalula reveals drink-drive limit ‘will change to 0%’

The Road Traffic Amendment Bill states that drivers must be completely sober before getting behind the wheel.

Drunk Driving drunk driver

Photo: Pixabay

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced on Tuesday 25 August that new laws are set to be imposed that give effect to a zero-tolerance policy on driving while under the influence of alcohol. The new laws will mean that an individual cannot get behind the wheel of a vehicle if they register anything more than a 0% blood-alcohol content.

According to the the Road Traffic Amendment Bill, SA’s drivers may not consume a single drop of alcohol before getting behind the wheel after the introduction of the laws.

Drivers’ blood alcohol content must be at 0%  

The Road Traffic Amendment Bill, which was introduced in Parliament in June 2020, orders that no driver may have a blood/alcohol reading of anything more than 0%.

Section 65 of the Principal Act is amended to the following:

“No persons shall on public road drive a vehicle or occupy the driver’s seat of a vehicle, the engine of which is running, while there is any concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from his or her body.,” the amendment reads. 

Prior to the new law, it was still legal for drivers to get behind the wheel if their blood-alcohol concentration was under 0.05g per 100ml and 0,24mg breath alcohol content per 1000ml, according to the National Road Traffic Act (NRA). 

Mbalula cited research by the Road Traffic Management Centre (RTMC) and South African Medical Research Council that suggests that drunk drivers who are involved in road accidents account for 27.1% of fatal crashes in the country. 

“This is estimated to cost the country R18 billion annually,” he said. 

“As indicated by this study and many observations including the recent death of TMPD officers, we need to strengthen the law and ensure that innocent lives are actually saved.”

‘You must be totally sober behind the wheel’ – Mbalula

Mbalula said that the dangers of driving while under the influence are one of the primary sources of tragic deaths on South Africa’s roads, as has been illustrated by periods in which deaths spiked while alcohol was permitted to be sold during the nationwide lockdown. 

“You must be totally sober when behind the wheel… the law will bite, there will be serious consequences,” said Mbalula.

COVID-19 has shown what alcohol can do to us,” Mbalula said regarding how the number of hospital trauma cases went down and up during and after the ban was lifted.