Zero tolerance proposed on drinking and driving

2015-02-04 00:00

MOTORISTS who like to have a beer or a glass of wine with their meals have until February 27 to tell the Department of Transport what they think about a proposed zero blood alcohol limit.

A proposal to cut to zero the current maximum alchohol level of 0,05 g per 100 ml, was published last week in the Government Gazette.

Although organisations like the Automobile Assosiation (AA) welcome the plan, restaurant managers said the new law could close their businesses, if it is enforced.

Sharon Mafu said: “Eish, does government want us to close? If people may not drink at all before driving it will close this restaurant and many others. Most of our clients come here to have something to drink. Even those who come to eat order a drink.

“Many people will lose their jobs. It is as if government wants to pull down the country,” Mafu said.

Desmond Roelofz was not sure if the amendments would impact on his business. “My experience is if people want to drink, they will drink.

“If government wants to enforce this, they will have to upgrade public transport drastically,” Roelofz said.

AA spokesperson Marius Luyt said alcohol plays a major role in road deaths.

Luyt said a zero alcohol level won’t be such a big step for South Africans as the current levels are already very low.

He cautioned legislation alone will not solve South Africa’s drunk driving issues. “South Africans must also change their behaviour.”

Chair of the Justice Project SA Howard Dembovsky said the zero alcohol limit had its pros and cons.

“The advantage is it sends a clear message against drunk driving, but the disadvantage is that people will be criminalised over any type of alcohol.”

He said alcohol can appear on the breath through medicines or fruit, which could lead to illegal arrests and court cases if the blood alcohol level was set at zero.

Dembovsky said it was very difficult to predict if the proposed amendments would become law.

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