SA’s new drunk driving laws will cause chaos according to the AA

Drunk Driving
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The South African government is in the process of finalising the proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act but according to the Automobile Association (AA), the push to reduce the legal blood alcohol limits for drivers to zero will only criminalise innocent motorists and is unlikely to have the results authorities think it will.

The bill features an amendment of Section 65 which will effectively change the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers from 0.05 grams per 100 millilitres to 0.00g/100ml, and the breath alcohol concentration from 0.24g/1,000ml also to zero.

Read More | Stricter alcohol laws proposed for South Africa including a new legal drinking age

Speaking to BusinessTech the AA said that the proposed changes are concerning on a number of levels, “although the stated reason for the change is the promotion of road safety, within the current framework of traffic law enforcement, nothing will change, except that innocent drivers are likely to be criminalised.”

“For instance, someone who is using medication which contains alcohol will now be arrested, charged and possibly prosecuted for having a small dose of alcohol in their blood while their driving ability has not been impaired,” said the AA.

The Association said that simply drafting legislation does not equate to meaningful road safety intervention and that other more important steps must be taken. “Without proper and implementable actions, we don’t believe the amendments relating to the alcohol levels will have a material impact on our abysmal road fatality statistics,” said the AA.

Read More |South Africa’s zero alcohol driving limit to be passed by December

The Association said the proposed amendment will make motorists targets for traffic law enforcers, and that the desired outcomes of improved road safety will not be met.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula confirmed that the Road Traffic Amendment Bill – which was introduced in parliament in June 2020 – will soon become law with the bill effectively introducing a 0% alcohol limit for all motorists.

The DA has also called on the South African government to introduce the Liquor Amendment Bill. The draft legislation – which aims to introduce a number of alcohol laws that could help reduce the damage caused by alcohol abuse in the country – has reportedly been sitting in cabinet for the last four years.

The Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) is backing both bills with director Maurice Smithers telling TimesLive that the Liquor Amendment Bill should be fast-tracked alongside new regulations around drunk driving drafted in the Road Traffic Amendment Bill.

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