By Dipesh Radia, Alexander Forbes Executive for Actuarial and Underwriting
A proposal from the Road Traffic Management Corporation wants the act of driving under the influence to be moved from a Schedule 2 offence to a Schedule 5 or 6 under the Criminal Procedure Act. This would result in the offender spending seven days in jail before bail.
With the holiday season upon us and social gatherings the order of the day, this festive time often has a tragic side as the number of road casualties increase.
According to South African law, it is illegal for any person with a blood alcohol level of 0.05g or more per 100ml to be in the driver’s seat of a vehicle.
Alcohol affects your ability to drive as it may cause:
- Bad judgement – Drinking affects your ability to judge distances between static and moving objects.
- Lack of concentration – Drunk drivers are more likely to become side-tracked and pay less attention to road signs, pedestrians etc.
- Slower reaction time – When you are drunk, it takes longer for your brain to process all of the data, and your ability to interpret information is reduced.
- Impaired vision – Drunk drivers have tunnel vision as they are less aware of peripheral zones.
If you are convicted of drunk driving in South Africa, you could face jail time and be liable for fines and culpable homicide, resulting in a criminal record and the possible suspension of your licence.
Being caught driving under the influence has insurance implications. Your insurance premiums will probably increase as you will be considered a higher risk driver, and your insurer may even refuse to renew your policy. If you do not disclose any charges or convictions to your insurer, they may also reject your future motor claims, due to non-disclosure of material information.
Your insurance policy excludes damage to your vehicle and third party damage or injury caused when you drive over the blood alcohol limit. Many insurers also exclude cover where it is reliably witnessed that you were under the influence. The result would be you covering expenses from your own pocket associated with an accident caused by drunk driving.
Many insurers offer driver service benefits to their clients. We recommend that you find out from your insurance company about these benefits that may be a part of their offering. If not, the public can use driver services like Taxify and Uber rather than drive drunk. Even if you are not driving “over the limit”, alcohol increases fatigue and makes an accident more likely.
Issued by Corporate Image on behalf of Alexander Forbes