Motorists are currently allowed a limit of 0.05 millilitres of alcohol in the blood - an equivalent of a glass of wine or 500ml of beer.
An inter-ministerial committee on alcohol and substance abuse led by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has decided to initiate legislative amendments to change this completely. The decision was taken last month at a meeting attended by, among others, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Transport Minister Ben Martins and Dlamini.
They have agreed to approach Cabinet to present a case for the zero tolerance of alcohol on the roads. The proposal would include a ban on advertising alcohol.
The idea was presented by the department of transport, which recently revealed that half of road crashes were caused by drunk drivers.
Transport Ministry spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said it was unfortunate that drivers continued to disregard the alcohol limit.
"Medical research has shown that a drop of alcohol (in the blood) leads to (motorists) not being able to control their vehicles (properly)," Rikhotso said. "Most of the accidents are caused by drunk people on our roads.
"People must drink at home, use public transport, or hire drivers. As soon as we implement the law, there will be zero tolerance from our side."
Social development spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant said the new law would also include a ban on the advertisement of alcohol.
"The draft bill will be presented to Cabinet. We will then embark on a legislation process and take it to Parliament."
The public will get an opportunity to comment.
"Most of the [government] departments support a total alcohol ban for drivers. It means motorists will never drink and drive," she said.
Automobile Association of South Africa spokesman Gary Ronald said the latest country to introduce an alcohol ban for drivers was Brazil, leading to a 30 percent decline in road injuries and fatalities - but, the Brazilian government had to educate citizens about the new law and ensure the police implemented it properly.
Countries enforcing a total ban include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Hungary, Saudi Arabia and Slovakia.
Rikhotso said the department of transport supported the banning of alcohol advertising as advertising made people drink more - as well as attracting new drinkers.
"We will be contradicting ourselves, as government, if we only ban alcohol on our roads and not its advertising," Rikhotso explained.
There are no new proposals yet on the penalties to be meted against those who violated the proposed law.
The current law provides for the suspension of drivers' licences, or cancellation, when drivers are caught driving drunk, or when their speeding results in fatalities.Picture taken from www.expatechodubai.comPicture taken from www.expatechodubai.comPicture taken from www.expatechodubai.com
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