Is there a different permissible blood or breath alcohol limit in Gauteng?

Question:

Good day. Please tell me if the zero blood alcohol driving limit has come into effect in Gauteng. My nephew was pulled over by the Metro Police in Garsfontein, Pretoria. They asked him if he had had anything to drink. He had had one beer.

They informed him the limit was now zero alcohol, read him his rights, and arrested him. They cuffed him, put him in their van, and started driving towards Garsfontein police station. A few blocks from the police station, they stopped, uncuffed him, and said he could go, only after insisting that he hands over his new sunglasses! (Which he did) Please tell me what the law is now, as were not aware that the minimum blood alcohol limit for driving is already zero. Thank you.

Answer:

Firstly, let’s deal with the blood alcohol limit whilst driving.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs having a narcotic effect is governed by section 65 of the National Road Traffic Act. This Act is applicable nationwide and there is no variation in the permissible blood or breath alcohol limits from province to province. The current limits applicable are:

BELOW 0.05g/100ml of blood sampled; and
BELOW 0.24mg/1000ml of breath sampled.

The figures above, when extrapolated to how many physical alcoholic beverages would put a person over the limit varies from person to person and drink to drink, including but not limited to brand of beer and more especially the serving size. There is a significant difference between a 330ml can of beer and a 500ml draft beer, as is there a difference between Castle Lager and Black Label for example. Typically, 2 cans of Castle Lager would place a person of “average build” somewhere near, if not over the limit.

The zero alcohol limit has been mooted and even widely publicised and discussed, however it is not currently the law anywhere in South Africa. In a way, this is a great pity, since there can be no clearer message than “you are not allowed to drink and then drive”, rather than telling people, “you can drink, so long as you don’t drink too much” as is currently the case.

We believe that the sooner this amendment to the National Road Traffic Act is enacted, the better since it will provide the added advantage of people not falling foul of the practices of corrupt cops. If you know you’ve had nothing to drink, then you cannot be duped. It’s as simple as that.

What happened to your son is terrible, not to mention being unlawful and a crime on the part of the police concerned. Since we already have part of the puzzle, in that he was taken towards Garsfontein Police Station, I would like to encourage your son to take this matter further and write to socnet.saps@saps.gov.za so that an official enquiry may be launched and the thieving gangsters who arrested your son may be taken to task. Additionally, if such action is instituted, your son would be entitled to lodge a civil claim against the TMPD (if it was them), or whichever other law enforcement agency it was for false arrest and this may be done on a contingency basis.

In my opinion, people should not only get angry when they are abused and extorted by law enforcement officials, they should take the necessary action to gain relief and discourage both; those corrupt, abusive officers who perpetrate these crimes and anyone else who may be contemplating doing similar from doing so ever again.

Best Regards,

Howard Dembovsky
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)
Association Not For Gain | Incorporated as a non-profit company under the Companies Act, 2008 | Registration Number 2010/019972/08

Also view:

Drunk Driving and Road Safety

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