This is how the drunk driving law could affect car insurance

It is legally, morally and ethically wrong to drive while under the influence of alcohol – and with the new zero-tolerance drunk driving law it could leave you out of pocket, too. Previously, it was difficult for car insurers to establish if you were over limit. Now, however, even the slightest trace of alcohol in your blood could give your vehicle insurer reason to deny your claim.

Currently, it’s possible to have one drink and then drive home afterwards because the law allows up to 0.05g of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which is about one or two light strength alcoholic beverages. Most insurance policies in South Africa have a clause that allows car insurers to void your claim if you were over the drunk-drive limit. However, it was historically difficult to establish if the driver was over the 0.05g per 100ml limit, and whether their vision and concentration was impaired as a result. 

However, with the new zero-tolerance drink driving laws, that will change.

Coming into effect in the near-future, the law will enforce a zero-tolerance policy on drunk-driving. That means that if you have even a trace of alcohol in your body – even if you haven’t had a drink since yesterday – you will be breaking the law.

South Africa has a notorious issue with alcohol-related accidents on the road. According to the South African Police Services, there were 82,912 cases of drink driving reported on the road in the period 2018/2019. The number of actual drunk drivers on the road who were not reported is likely far higher.

Alcohol seriously affects driver performance by increasing your reaction times dramatically, leaving you unable to concentrate, and affecting your brain’s ability to calculate risks. This, along with the alarmingly high number of reported drunk driver cases, has pushed forward a change to South Africa’s drunk-driving laws. 

The new law aims to cut down the number of alcohol-related accidents on the road, but it also helps remove a grey area for car insurance companies. Making the alcohol limit zero removes the ambiguity of trying to work out how much alcohol was affecting driver performance. Now with the new upcoming law, even if the driver was completely unaffected by a trace amount of alcohol in their system, car insurance companies will have the right to deny a claim. 

The new law could leave your wallet empty as a result, even if you acted and performed perfectly normally. On top of that, insurance companies will take previous denials of a claim into account when it comes to renewing your policy, which will increase the price of your premium. With a history of rejected claims or drink driving convictions, you’ll be regarded as a ‘higher risk’ driver. In more serious cases, you may be refused cover in the future altogether. 

With such a strict new law coming in place very soon, it’s worth planning your travel if you wish to have even one drink. Having a designated driver or using a taxi service could end up saving you a serious amount of money in the long run. 

Did you know that many insurers offer discount on services such as Uber, Lyft or other rideshare services? Let us help you find an insurer that covers all your needs – not only covering your vehicle but also helping you find other solutions that protect you on the road. Whether you’re looking for more affordable insurance or niche insurance benefits, let MotorHappy help you compare car insurance quotes from some of the leading insurers out there. 


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