Drunk driving and the consequences

As we enter into the festive season we typically expect festive cheer and with it, for some, copious amounts of alcohol. When this becomes a problem however is when these drunk drivers get behind the wheel and take to the road. Moneybags journalist Danielle Van Wyk takes a look at what will happen if you are caught drunk driving this festive season.

The beginning of this year saw Transport minister Dipuo Peters release the festive season road death statistics for 2016. Here she drew on the growing issue that is drunk driving and added, “Driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to wear seatbelt, using cell-phones while driving, excessive speeding, disregarding road conditions and signs reflect a negative attitude that many motorists have towards the rules of the road.”

In this vein the South African Breweries (SAB) have subsequently released a guide on alcohol units to assist in reducing the damage that alcohol abuse causes to South Africans.

By law the legal limit is a breath-alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1 000ml‚ or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml.

According to the South African Department of Transport (DoT) they are in advanced discussions with the Justice Department to institute a mandatory two-year jail sentence with no bail if you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol. This, around the proposed minimum sentence for negligent and reckless driving as part of the department’s long-term strategy to curb road casualties. This comes after the increased death toll that was experienced during the Easter period.

“The notion is to reclassify drunken driving from a Schedule 3, which is less severe, to a more severe Schedule 5 offence. Those convicted under a Schedule 5 offence face a recommended minimum sentence of 15 years in jail. Schedule 5 offences include murder, attempted murder, treason, rape, corruption, extortion, and fraud,” stated the DoT.

So how much is too much?

“The rule of thumb is a maximum of one unit of alcohol per hour‚ which constitutes 10ml of pure alcohol‚ based on an adult weighing 68kg‚” SAB explained. “Our bodies can process only one unit of alcohol each hour. Be aware that if you weigh less than 68kg your body will need more time to process the same amount of alcohol.”

What makes a unit?
-It is equal to two thirds of a beer or spirit cooler with 5% alcohol content.
-If you’re drinking wine note 75ml of red or white wine per hour with an alcohol content of 12% to 14% is acceptable.
– While spirit drinkers can drink up to one 25ml tot of alcohol per hour.

Another important thing to remember is that alcohol content is also expressed as a percentage of the whole drink. “Wine that says ‘13 ABV’ on its label contains 13% pure alcohol,” stated SAB.

Can you be arrested for drunk driving?

If you are stopped and caught by law enforcement officers while driving under the influence over the legal limit you will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of liquor.

“This could lead to being held in custody until bail is posted, you could face a minimum fine of R2 000 or a two-year prison sentence of both and could lose your driver’s licence or have it suspended. And you will have a criminal record with all the negative implications on family and career for your entire life,” reported News24.

Driving drunk is a choice and one with far reaching consequences that can not only see you in trouble with the law but can also cost you or someone else’s life. Consume alcohol with caution this festive season.