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Drinking and Driving in South Africa

Drinking and driving in South Africa is a serious offense. No one is allowed to drive or even occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle on a public road when over the limit legally set out by each province.

Drunk driving penalties are regulated by Section 65 of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1998.

In this article, our attorneys explain the process and consequences.

drinking and driving in South Africa

What is the legal limit?

When having your blood tested, your alcohol concentration may not be higher than 0.05% of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

In the case of a breathalyser – the threshold is less than 0.24% per 1000ml of breath.

What happens after you are caught drinking and driving?

If you are breathalysed and you are found to be over the limit - you will be arrested.

People often want to give false information during this time. However, it’s important to be honest about your personal details or you will face further charges for giving false information.

Once you have been arrested, you will typically be taken for a blood test where your alcohol blood concentration will be assessed.

Although many people think that they are entitled to refuse a blood test, this is not true. However, you are entitled to request that your own medical practitioner performs the test. You are also allowed to request that the sealed needle and syringe be shown to you beforehand.

Drinking and Driving - Can I refuse a blood test?

Although you are not allowed to refuse a blood test, there are steps that an officer of the law must follow before enforcing the blood test.

A police order referred to as the SAP308 must be completed by the officer and given to the medical practitioner. This must be done before any blood testing can take place. If this is not done before the examination, then the medical practitioner cannot touch you or attempt to introduce a needle into your body. This constitutes as assault.

Will they definitely do a blood test?

There are several factors that the medical practitioner will look at before conducting their examination.

  • Is your face red?
  • Do you smell of alcohol?
  • Are you slurring your words?
  • Are you aggressive or impulsive?
  • Are your clothes dirty, fitted neatly, is your fly open?

It is ALWAYS advised that your legal representative be present where possible. Bailey Haynes is experienced in these cases and our attorneys in Cape Town provide good legal advice and service.

Following the examination, a legal docket will be created and will be sent to the investigating officer who will assess the results as well as the medical practitioner’s observations.

Drinking and Driving – what happens after I get arrested?

Until you are granted bail, you will be put in a holding cell. However, in some cases you may be detained until your court appearance. On weekdays, this must take place within 48 hours of your arrest. On weekends, you can be detained for 48 hours and even up to the maximum 72 hours.

On the day that you appear in court, you may be granted bail if the Magistrate finds it in the interest of justice. However, if the magistrate finds it not in the interest of justice, your bail can be extended or postponed for 7 working days.

What are the penalties for drinking and driving in South Africa?

Punishment varies depending on whether it is a repeat offence, someone was injured or killed or how intoxicated an individual is.

However, the minimum fine to expect begins at R2 000 and goes up to R120 000. Additionally, you may also face up to 6 years of prison.

Furthermore, a Magistrate may further impose a suspended sentence or loss of your driver’s licence.

Where someone is killed – there will be a further charge / conviction for culpable homicide and additional sentencing in relation thereto. 

Will I have a criminal record if found guilty?

Yes – you will have a criminal record for up to 10 years.

Bailey Haynes Inc. – Criminal Attorneys Cape Town

If you are caught drinking and driving – it is critical that you contact Bailey Haynes Attorneys for expert legal advice and services.

It is an offense that is taken very seriously, and you can face life changing consequences if convicted.


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