Don’t drink and drive

By Nomzamo Ngcobo
09 December 2015

Drivers might insist on driving because they believe they only had a few drinks. But they later wake up in a hospital bed after a crash.

By Nomzamo Ngcobo

ER24’s Chief Medical Officer Doctor Robyn Holgate notes that in South Africa, the legal limit is a breath alcohol content of 0,24 mg per 1 000 ml or a blood alcohol limit of 0,05 g per 100 ml.

But she emphasises that if consumers are going to drive, they should not drink alcohol at all. She says, “Society needs to have zero tolerance for people who drive while under the influence of alcohol.”

Dr Holgate adds that mild to moderate intoxication can impact on a person in a number of ways, such as leading to fast involuntary movements of the eyes and loss of full control of the body movements, while a higher level of intoxication might lead to coma, respiratory depression and a drop in blood pressure.

“If you’re ever in doubt about the serious consequences of driving while under the influence, volunteer for a shift at your local EMS or police service,” Dr Holgate says.

ER24’s Johannesburg North branch manager, Saul Behrmann, adds that getting correct information from an intoxicated patient about an incident or about medication they’re taking is very challenging.

How to calculate how many units of alcohol you’ve consumed:

Multiply the volume of the drink (in millilitres) by its percentage alcohol by volume and divide by 1 000 to determine the number of units of alcohol in the drink you had.

For example: 350 ml beer at 5 % volume would be 350 x 5/1 000 = 1,75 units.

* 750 ml at 12 % volume would be 750 x 12/1 000 = 9 units.

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