Proposed Blood-Alcohol Level Not the Answer to Addressing Carnage on Our Roads | Western Cape Government

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Proposed Blood-Alcohol Level Not the Answer to Addressing Carnage on Our Roads

19 September 2013

Statement by Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works

The National Minister of Transport has, once again, proposed that the blood-alcohol limit for drivers be lowered from 0.05 g/100 ml to 0.02 g/100 ml. It doesn’t help to drop the level to 0.02 g/100 ml if you can’t catch and convict drunk drivers at the current 0.05 g/100 ml. I remain firmly opposed to the proposed lowering of the blood-alcohol limit and maintain that quick and harsh convictions must be the focus instead.

Blood Alcohol Content Limit defines the maximum legal amount of alcohol that is permitted to be in the blood for people to legally drive. In our submissions to the Department of Transport, we pointed out that there is still no scientific evidence to show that if the existing acceptable levels of alcohol consumption are further reduced, that there will be a decline in the number of crashes. Further, there is no proof that drivers with alcohol concentration levels of 0.05 g /100 ml are more dangerous than those with alcohol concentration levels of up to 0.02 g/100 ml.

The current limit in South Africa is the same as most other countries that have established safe driving regimes. A list of said countries and their limits are listed below:

Limit 0.05 g/100 ml

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Switzerland

Limit 0.08 g/100 ml

  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Singapore
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Most importantly, most countries also now use breathalyser technology, and there is every likelihood that the amendments suggested in clause 38 (of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, 2012) may influence the outcome of the future use of breathalysers due to the impact that physiological factors may have, especially with a reading of less than zero, thereby jeopardising successful prosecutions.

It was the Drager breathalyser that made the difference in the Western Cape, and initiated the behavioural swing away from drunken driving.

There are four things that Minister Peters can do that will make a huge difference in the on-going war against the carnage on our roads, and reducing the blood alcohol level isn’t one of them. She can:

  1. Immediately reintroduce the use of breathalysers as the main drink driving enforcement tool, which now only requires the Minister’s signature.
  2. Ensure that South African Police Services (SAPS) are supplied with these alcohol testers for their roadblocks. At present, SAPS officers conduct thousands of roadblocks, stopping hundreds of thousands of vehicles, but do not test for alcohol.
  3. She can use her position on the Cabinet Justice Cluster to increase the consequences for drink driving.
  4. Ensure the earliest publication of drink driving convictions as part of a nationwide “Name and Shame” campaign.

I welcome the decision by the Department of Justice to supply “Name and Shame” data to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), and hope that publication of these names will occur sooner rather than later.

Media Enquiries: 

Siphesihle Dube
Spokesperson for Robin Carlisle, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Ministry of Transport and Public Works
Tel: 021 483 8954
Cell: 084 233 3811