LOCAL: New drunk driving laws targets selected drivers in South Africa

LOCAL: New drunk driving laws targets selected drivers in South Africa

Zero-tolerance or 0.05 g/100 ml? 

Two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer
Two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer/Pexels

For the longest time we have known the drinking laws in South Africa to be zero tolerance.

But with the ever present road fatalities that are a result of drinking and driving, the need to look into the fine print of road traffic laws is a requirement. 

And so the rejection by the portfolio committee on transport to government's plans to introduce laws zero-rating alcohol limits for drivers in South Africa, has everyone wondering, what's the deal?

"In September, the committee rejected proposals from the government to reduce the allowable concentration of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream (BAC) from 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres of blood to nil." (Business Tech)

The reason behind the rejection was because many people consume medications, foods and engage in religious practices that leave trace amounts of alcohol in their blood stream. 

If and when these drivers are stopped by authorities, they could be arrested based on "false positives". 

The committee have put forth that stricter law enforcement and as well as police visibility companied with the current laws could be a possible help in combatting "alcohol- related traffic fatalities." 

However, "according to a new study published in the South African Journal of Science, zero-tolerance laws globally have seen significant reductions in road fatalities as a result of similar regulations – however, many include a margin of tolerance to accommodate challenges in detection." (Business Tech)

The study argues that instead of going forward with a zero tolerance compliance, we could rather enforce a limit of 0.02g/100ml, in line with other countries. 

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Another option could be to alter the limits on younger drivers, who have been known to have a lower threshold to alcohol and are more likely to be involved in a crash under the influence. 

Although notable research from the US and Australia has indicated that zero-tolerance laws have accounted for a noticeable reduction in fatal crashes by 9 to 24%, whilst combination of crashes has shown a drop of 4-17%. 

The recommendation is that "South Africa keep following a path to zero-tolerance for drunk driving and proposed that zero-tolerance legislation in South Africa be nested within a broader zero-tolerance approach – including a range of other complementary interventions." (Business Tech)

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