Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has announced that strict new rules around drunk driving and demerits will officially be introduced in South Africa in 2021.
In a media briefing on Friday (22 January), Mbalula said that the National Road Traffic Amendment Act will effectively introduce the total prohibition on the use and consumption of alcohol by all motor vehicle operators on South African public roads.
Under the new rules the concentration of alcohol in any blood specimen must be 0.00 gram per 100 millilitres.
“When you drive your car and get in your vehicle you will need to be 100% sober,” he said.
The National Road Traffic Act (NRA) currently enables those who have consumed alcohol to get behind the wheel provided they are under the blood alcohol limit.
For normal drivers, the concentration of alcohol in any blood specimen must be less than 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres, and in the case of a professional driver, less than 0.02 gram per 100 millilitres.
Mbalula also confirmed that the government will roll-out the new driving demerit system in 2021. This is aimed at punishing repeat offenders, he said.
“(Under this system) when you commit a number of offences you risk losing your driving licence. It happens in Europe and everywhere else.
“This is the year in which we are tightening the screws on offenders and those on the other side of the law. This is the year which we will see this in action.”
Mbalula recognised that the system has opponents, but said that the bill has already been signed into law by president Cyril Ramaphosa.
“We will implement it by June this year,” he said.
How demerits work
The Aarto Act provides for a system whereby a person, operator or company (juristic person) pays the penalty and incur points when a traffic infringement is committed.
The demerit points are allocated to the operators and owners of motor vehicles. If a vehicle is suspended it may not be sold or used on a public road.
If an operator or juristic person does sell a vehicle or scrap or export such vehicle, the demerit points will remain against the record of the operator/juristic person and be allocated to the next vehicle the company purchases.
However, vehicles are not punished by the system – only the driver/juristic person is held responsible for the use of its vehicle.