New drunk driving laws: Everything you need to know

1. Which police station has the highest number of incidents of Driving Under the Influence (in South Africa)? 

A. Douglasdale

B. Hillbrow

C. Durban Central

2. How many incidents of drunk driving (in total) were reported last year in the 2018/2019 South African Police Services (SAPS) report? 

A. 66 645 

B. 86 160

C. 82 912 

3. What is the current legal blood-alcohol limit in SA for normal drivers?

A. 10 grams per 100 millilitres

B. 0.008 gram per 100 millilitres

C. 0.005 gram per 100 millilitres

If you answered C for all the above, you are absolutely correct. Now, for the not-so-fun part….

As of June 2020, it will be illegal to drive with any level of alcohol in your blood. This, according to the new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act. It means that you will be arrested and fined if caught with any alcohol in your system. Added to this zero-tolerance law, the Aarto Act has also implemented a driver demerit system (as of January 2020). 

This new driver demerit system states that a driver is not allowed to incur any more than 12 points on the system without having their license suspended. Every point over 12 will incur a three-month suspension. For example, if a driver incurs 15 points, the suspension period will last for 9 months. Drivers will also incur penalties (R100) for every point over 12.

Said Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula in a recent press statement: “We are going to be intolerant to drinking and driving. We’re going beyond saying there’s some percentage – it must be zero percent. It’s going to be zero. No alcohol in the blood – and the law is going to bite with regard to that.”

Earlier this year, Minister Mbalula also reported an alarming 1617 road fatalities over the 2019/2020 festive season – in addition to the SAPS report of 82 912 cases of drunk driving in 2018/2019.

The statistics around road carnage, affecting most of us directly and indirectly, unfortunately point to how desensitised we’ve become. This is further compounded by increased reports of corruption by law enforcement. Hopefully, the zero-tolerance law and demerit system make a difference. In the meantime, it’s up to those responsible enough not to drive and drink to be extra vigilant of those who do.  

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