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Drinking and Driving in South Africa

17th December 2010
By Niselow Attorneys in Legal
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Drinking and driving has been described as "a national pastime" in South Africa. Contrary to this possibly humorous remark is the stark reality and consequences of drinking and driving on South African roads.

In terms of legislation, the offence of drunk driving is specifically recorded as "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."

Despite a limit being imposed in terms of what the concentration of alcohol in your blood should not exceed (blood: 0,05 gram per 100 millilitres and breath: 0.24 milligrams per 100 millilitres), drivers should not be mislead by this limit.

The simple fact is that if you are intending to drink alcohol at all, or have even had one sip, you should not consider driving whilst having consumed even one glass of wine. Most people are not aware that the general guidelines for prosecution in drunk driving cases, make provision for a drunk driving charge to be prosecuted without the use of a blood or breath sample, should a competent and knowledgeable officer on drunken driving cases be available as a witness and provide evidence accordingly.

While any ethical attorney does not condone drunk driving or driving under the influence of narcotics, however provides their legal assistance to service clients who have been charged accordingly, so as to ensure that the procedure followed by traffic law enforcers is one that is fair and accurate in terms of the law and in ensuring that clients’ rights to a fair trial are protected throughout the process.

Many people have been arrested and charged with drunk driving, alternatively know someone who has met the same fate, however most are unaware of their rights in such a situation and particularly as to the guidelines for prosecution with breathalyzers and blood samples, which are to be strictly followed by traffic officers.

Being convicted of this kind of offence is recorded on one’s criminal record, and will appear when being issued with a police clearance certificate. May have been fooled by believing that paying a fine out of court and at the police station on arrest will make it "go away", however simply put, you are paying an admission of guilt fine, and effectively convicting yourself.

After such payment of an admission of guilt fine, that criminal record is far more detrimental than what people perceive. While it may technically still be a traffic offence which you are violating, same will be considered in every job application, visa application and especially with the current trend in immigration, it can ruin your chances of immigration to a foreign country.

It must however be noted that numerous drunk driving cases are thrown out on technicalities due to incorrect arrest procedures being followed, inconsistent dockets, etc. It is most definitely worth engaging the services of an attorney to advise you on what these procedures and guidelines are and to ensure they have been adhered to. For futher information on DUI please click on the link below.
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About the Author
SNA’s team of dedicated professionals is directed by Sam Niselow and Wesley Soutter who, pursuant to practising at a leading South African commercial firm, established SNA Attorneys which specialises in the fields of divorce, family, corporate and commercial law.

SNA Attorneys is a Woodmead, Sandton based law firm which specialises in a variety of legal disciplines.

We are committed to making the law more accessible and user-friendly to both individuals and corporate clients.

Thanks to our niche areas of specialization we are able to service clients both large and small within an atmosphere of mutual understanding, professionalism, trust and respect.

Our focus is always on developing a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and on how best to meet those needs in the most cost-effective and expeditious manner.

SNA Attorneys services a large National and International Family Law, Divorce Law, Corporate and Commercial Law client base.

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