We’re officially in the home stretch of the end of the year and that means it’s parties and work functions from here on out for 2016. Sounds good to us! However, this also means that our roads become more dangerous with many people opting to drink and drive. According to South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD), SA has one of the worst road injury stats in the world and yet, despite knowing this, many road users still drive under the influence of alcohol.
There are numerous consequences to getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, the most serious of which is placing your life and others’ lives in danger. Drunk drivers can also face hefty fines and several years of jail time, and, if they have an accident while under the influence, their vehicle insurance won’t pay out their claim.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun this December, though! There are loads of driving services that you can use, the most common being Uber – just download the app and load your credit card details. If you’re not into giving out your credit card details in an app or don’t want to leave your car out overnight, there are numerous other companies that will drive you home in your own vehicle, so there is no excuse for it.
If you are still considering drinking and driving this festive season, here’s what you need to know about the consequences.
What is the legal limit?
Figuring out how much you can drink on a given night is a bit more complicated than you might expect. In South Africa, the legal limit is less than of 0.05g blood alcohol level per 100ml, or less than 0.24mg breath alcohol in 1000ml.
These figures are meaningless, though, if you don’t know what they relate to in terms of what you can drink, how many drinks you can have, and over what period of time.
So the real question is: Are you OK to drive after one beer or a glass of wine? It depends on your weight, age, gender, body type, and other factors, as well as how big your glass of wine is or how strong that beer is. Here’s a look at how some common drinks might affect you. Remember, though, that everyone is different and these relate to the average adult; you might differ significantly!
One unit of alcohol is equal to 0.02g blood alcohol or 0.10mg per 1000ml in your breath.
• 1 x 75 ml glass of wine = 1 unit
• 1 x 250 ml glass of wine = 3.3 units
• 1 x shooter = ½ unit in most cases
• 1 x spirit cooler = about 1.25 units
• 1 x beer = 1.5 units or more
• 1 x cider = 2 units
• 1 x 25 ml tot of spirits = 1 unit
• 1 x cocktail = between 2 and 4 units
Taking this into account, and the fact that it takes the average body about an hour to process one unit of alcohol, having two drinks in the space of an hour will likely put you over the limit.
What are the consequences?
In addition to the most serious risk of causing serious injury to other road users, you can face up to six years in jail and up to R120 000 in fines, your license could be suspended, and you could end up with a criminal record. When you think about it like that, it’s definitely not worth it!
What happens when you’re caught?
If traffic authorities suspect that you are drunk while driving, they are allowed to give you a breathalyser to test your breath alcohol level. If it’s above the legal limit, you can be taken for further testing, which typically involves a blood test. The results of the test will be sent to a lab for processing and the SAPS will issue you with a case number. You’ll be held in jail for a minimum of four hours, but this could be much longer depending on how busy the station is on the day. You’ll be allowed to make a phone call from the station, and can be released once bail has been posted. However, depending on your previous history and the individual circumstance, bail may be denied.
What can you look out for?
If you’re still unsure about how many drinks you can have, it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid the booze altogether if you’re going to drive.
If you suspect someone else is not all right to drive, here are some of the signs to look out for. Traffic authorities may also look out for these signs:
- Speech: One of the most common signs of intoxication is slurred speech.
- Smell: You’ll probably be able to smell if someone’s been drinking heavily.
- Clothes: Drunken people may have scruffy clothing and look generally dishevelled.
- Walk: They may be unable to walk steadily or in a straight line.
- Eyes: You’ll notice redness of the eyes.
- Behaviour: If someone speaks very loudly, swears out of character, is impulsive, or argumentative, it can be a good indication that they shouldn’t get behind the wheel.
What can you do to stay safe?
The best way to stay safe on the roads and keep others safe is to avoid drinking and driving altogether, and if you are going to drink, use a taxi service that will get you home safe.
You can also take out comprehensive car insurance with Budget Insurance so that, if your car is stolen or you have an accident (while you are sober, of course!), you’ll be covered.
Information obtained from: http://www.sadd.org.za/education/statistics; https://www.drivesouthafrica.co.za/blog/drunk-driving-in-south-africa-laws/; https://www.drivesouthafrica.co.za/blog/drunk-driving-in-south-africa-laws/; http://www.news24.com/Travel/South-Africa/Drunk-Driving-laws-in-South-Africa-20121211; https://arrivealive.co.za/Alcohol-and-Legal-Implications-of-Drunk-Driving