Drunk Driving or Driving Under The Influence

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Drunk Driving or driving under the influence (DUI) is something to avoid at all cost, especially with Taxi Services like Uber around.

Most of us have attended a party or family event and stayed a bit longer and had one beer or glass of wine to many.

People make mistakes like this and sometimes the Police or the National Prosecuting Authorities gets it wrong and arrests and prosecutes an innocent person.

We often consult with Clients and they state that they realised that they made a huge mistake, that they have messed up and now they stand to lose everything. They are frightened, and they realise the consequences of ‘a night out’ may be severe. They may lose their jobs, their drivers’ licence may be suspended, and their emigration plans cannot proceed, etcetera.

How much is too much to drink before you drive?

The National Road Traffic Act (No. 93 of 1996) states that:

“(1) No person shall on a public road- (a) drive a vehicle; or (b) occupy the driver's seat of a motor vehicle the engine of which is running, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect.

(2) No person shall on a public road- (a) drive a vehicle; or

(b) occupy the driver's seat of a motor vehicle the engine of which is

running, while the concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken from any part of his or her body is not less than 0,05 gram per 100 millilitres, or in the case of a professional driver referred to in section 32, not less than 0,02 gram per 100 millilitres”.

What does this really mean? How many beers or glasses of wine can you have before you are over the legal limit?

The answer is not clear-cut as it depends on various factors such as:

  • Meals with or before the drink;
  • Type of meal;
  • If you are on medication;
  • Your weight;
  • Etcetera.

Alcohol metabolism consists of absorption, distribution and elimination which occur at the same time and affect how much alcohol can amass in the blood stream and which is finally responsible for causing drunkenness of an individual.

However, it is generally accepted that if you have two standard drinks within an hour that you will be over the legal limit.

The Police may stop you at a roadblock and they will probably as part of the roadblock look for the physical signs of Intoxication of drivers. These may include the following:

  • Glassy or bloodshot eyes;
  • Notice how the person smells;
  • Watch for impaired motor function;
  • They will listen out for inappropriate comments and loudness;
  • Listen for slurred speech;
  • Loss of fine motor coordination.

Remember, if you get arrested do not make a statement to the Police without your DUI Attorney’s assistance as any statement made can be used against you.


Martin Vermaak

Practising Attorney

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