This is exactly how much you can drink and still drive


The festive season has arrived and many of us are ready to start living it up. But while it’s great to have fun that’s no reason to start acting irresponsibly – especially if you’ll be driving.

The SA Police Service are on high alert for drunk drivers, but when exactly are you over the legal alcohol limit? When do you start becoming a danger behind the wheel? And is there anything you can do to make sure you don’t break the law? Let’s see what the law says and what we can do to act responsibly.

To pass an alcohol blood test in South Africa you must have less than 0,05g/100ml alcohol in your system. The breath alcohol limit is 0,24mg/100ml.

Confused? Here is exactly how much alcohol each drink contains:

(1 unit of alcohol is equivalent to 0,02g blood alcohol, so 2 units and you’ve basically reached your limit)

1 glass (150ml) of wine = 2 units

1 glass (250ml) of wine = 3,3 units

1 shot of spirits = ½ unit

1 beer = 1,5 units or possibly more

1 cider = 2 units

1 cocktail = 2 to 4 units

If you drink just two small glasses of wine within a space of an hour then you’re over the legal limit and not fit to drive. According to Food24 your body requires an hour to process 1 unit of alcohol.

Speaking to DRUM, Joburg metro police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar explains what happens when someone is caught drinking and driving.

“If you fail the breathalyser test you’re arrested on the spot and taken to the station where a blood test will be taken. Afterwards you will wait to appear in court for your hearing then it is up to the judge whether you’re fined or sentenced.”

Minnaar says the only tip he can give drivers is this: “If you’re drunk, don’t drive.”

Here are a few tips on how to avoid drinking and driving:

  • Always have a designated driver – who doesn’t drink – amongst your friends
  • Ask for a ride or arrange for alternative transportation
  • Protect your friends by taking their keys if they’ve consumed too much alcohol.

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