South Africa Legal Blood Alcohol Limit

South Africa Legal Blood Alcohol Limit

A legal blood alcohol limit of 0% applies in very few Western democracies and, when enforced, is largely limited to new or inexperienced drivers. Most Western countries apply a blood alcohol limit of 0.05% (, accessed 8.4.2021). Countries with zero tolerance for alcohol and cars: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Brazil, Czech Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gambia, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Nepal, Oman, Panama, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Slovakia, Sudan, Tajikstan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen. • Currently, it is still legal to drive if your blood alcohol level is less than 0.05 g per 100 ml. According to Wikipedia (op cit), the table points to S. 28 that the reduction in blood alcohol concentration from 0.05% to 0% has little or no significant impact on the prevention of accidents due to alcohol-related impairment. “More than 30 countries around the world don`t allow you to drive with alcohol in your system – while alcohol is banned in a handful of other countries.” “All over the world, there are interesting variations in what is allowed. In the United States, England and Wales, the limit is 0.08% (80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood). Only the Cayman Islands are higher – the limit is 0.1%. Meanwhile, here in South Africa and Scotland, Australia and Spain, for example, the limit is 0.05% (50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood),” explained Stress-Free Car Rental. In the fight against drunk driving, Australia, New Zealand and, more recently, Kerala in India use mobile anti-drink-driving and anti-drink-driving units, colloquially referred to as “drunk buses” in Australia and New Zealand in their regular random roadblocks.

These vehicles are medium-sized buses equipped with alcohol and drug screening devices, where blood is taken from suspected drunk drivers and tested on the spot. It includes two interview rooms (for a design diagram, see F Cotter` Do the right thing! VicPol ADT BBW-Iveco `Booze Bus` (, accessed 8.4.2021)). In addition to alcohol fines and regular roadblocks, Victoria has introduced mandatory installation of alcohol interlocks for six months at the driver`s expense (A$1,605) if a driver whose driving licence has been revoked blows more than 0.07%. The lock requires a driver to inhale into the latch and the car will not start when a blood alcohol limit of 0.02 is reached. It uses technology that ensures that the right person inhales into the device and prevents bypassing. The padlock is removed only after five months, if a driver has not violated the conditions of the lock and tried to drink alcohol and drive. Australia is considering lock-in as a standard feature of all new vehicles in Australia (see “Mandatory breathalyzer in Victoria for impaired drivers whose licences are cancelled” (, accessed 8.4.2021)). According to South Africans Against Drunk Driving, the conviction rate for drunk driving is 7% (, accessed 8.4.2021). Official statistics on drunk driving convictions were not available. The statistics in the 2019/2020 Annual Report of the National Prosecutor`s Office and the 2018/2019 Annual Report of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development do not address individual crimes. In general, only conviction rates for certain offences are reported and used (see T Leggett `The Sieve Effect – South Africa`s conviction rates in perspective` (2003) 5 South African Crime Quarterly 11 (, accessed 8.4.2021)).

The low rate of impaired driving in convictions is partly due to barriers to the use of blood alcohol screening devices in the enforcement of blood alcohol and blood alcohol testing, which include the recently introduced breath alcohol testing devices (see Ehmke-Engelbrecht et al. (op cit) and S v Hendricks [2011] 4 All SA 402 (WCC); Price v Mutual & Federal Insurance Co Ltd 2007 (1) SACR 501 (SE); L Fouché, J Bezuidenhout, C Liebenberg and AO Adefuye “Forensic aspects of drunk driving: experience and competence in the practice of community duty physicians and the evidence of drunk driving” (2018) 60 (2) South African Family Practice 63). In a 2014 News24 report, an anonymous police officer claimed that about 80% to 90% of drunk driving prosecutions fail due to botched blood samples or simple corruption, and prosecutors withdraw the charges. Other factors include the fact that drunk driving convictions are not a priority for police or prosecutors (“Anger over drunk driving conviction rate” (, accessed 8.4.2021) and Stephan Hofstatter and Pearlie Joubert “Drunk-drive busch-up” (, accessed 8.4.2021)). The WHO assesses the application of the South African blood alcohol level at 25% (G Crouth `Consumer Watch: Zero-tolerance drunk driving law a `smokescreen` (, accessed 8.4.2021)). The blood alcohol level is an indicator of the effect of alcohol consumption on a person`s behaviour and ability to drive and is used for medical and legal purposes. A plausible explanation is that legislative changes are not adequately enforced – for example, with random breathalyzers (Haghpanahan et al. (op cit)). This phenomenon has important policy implications for lowering the blood alcohol limit.

Rowan Dunne (Levels of alcohol intoxication: An assessment of Perceptions, Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices and Breath Alcohol Levels (thesis by MSSc, UCT, 2012) (, accessed 6.4.2021) found that in his sample of 180 licensees, 76 (42.2%) of respondents had ever crossed a roadblock after drinking, while 61 (33.9%) reported being stopped by a law enforcement officer after drinking. Despite these encounters, only 12 (6.7%) were arrested for impaired driving. It suggests increasing the number of roadblocks and arrests to increase the perceived risk of arrest for impaired driving (see also in this context Amanda Delaney, Kathy Diamantopoulou and Max Cameron “Strategic Principles of Drink-Driving Enforcement” (, accessed 8.4.2021)). This conclusion is supported by the Australian experience. In 2015, it was reported that 44,526 cases of drink-driving were withdrawn by South African courts in the 2012/2013 financial year for various reasons (Wilmot James “The state of forensic chemistry laboratories in SA” (, accessed 8.4.2021)). A significant proportion of these withdrawals were due to deficiencies in the maintenance and operation of technical equipment (including breathalyzers), inadequate or inadequate storage and storage of samples, and invalid sample analysis (see Ursula Ehmke-Engelbrecht, Lorraine du Toit-Prinsloo, Christelle Deysel, Joyce Jordaan and Gert Saayman “Tackling drunk driving: questioning the validity of blood alcohol concentration analysis” (2016) 54 South African Crime Quarterly 7). The number of deaths on the roads cannot be reduced simply by introducing 0% blood alcohol level. The reduction in our blood alcohol level from 0.08% to 0.05% for drivers in 1996 and the current initiative will have no effect unless there is legislation covering the full spectrum of the fight against intoxication for all road users and consistent, effective and appropriate enforcement, including identification, reviewing and removing all barriers to effective enforcement of the law and blood alcohol levels. and convictions for impaired driving. The behaviour of road users who use alcohol and drugs will not change if there is no real risk of certainty of detection, prosecution and conviction. Etienne Blais and Benoit Dupont note: “For example, Homel [(R Homel Policing and punishing the drinking driver (Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1988)].” Drink-driving law enforcement and the legal blood alcohol limit in New South Wales” (1994) 26 Accident Analysis & Prevention 147)] assessed the impact of the New South Wales Random Breath Testing Initiative (RBT) on the annual volume of road fatalities. In Australia, the law allows police to block roads and test every driver`s blood alcohol level, regardless of any doubts they have about their level of poisoning.

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