Useful Information

Important Facts Relating to Alcohol, Roads and the Law in South Africa

  • The Legal Blood or Breath Alcohol Concentration Limit in South Africa for drivers on public roads is less than 0,05 g of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (< 0.05 % B.A.C or 0.24mg/l of breath {BrAC}) (This equates to approximately 2 to 3 units of alcohol within 1 hour for a person of average weight and height)
  • The limit in this instance for professional drivers i.e. people who drive for a living and in possession of a Professional Driving Permit {PrDP} and when driving a category of vehicle for which such permit is needed e.g. Bus-, Taxi-, Courier- and Truck-Drivers, is less than 0,02 g of alcohol per 100 ml of blood {< 0,02 % B.A.C or 0,10mg/l BrAC) (This equates to approximately 1 unit of alcohol within 1 hour for a person of average weight and height)
  • It takes the human body approximately 1 hour to process and eliminate 1 unit of alcohol. If 2 units of alcohol are drunk, 2 hours are needed to eliminate the 2 units of alcohol. If 4 units of alcohol are drunk, 4 hours are needed to process and eliminate the 4 units of alcohol.

What is alcohol abuse?

  • Alcohol abuse can be referred to as the over indulgence or excessive usage and dependence on alcohol. This use acts on the central nervous system and alters brain functions. This typically results in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behaviour leading to effects that are harmful to a person’s physical or mental health or the welfare of others.

Effects of alcohol abuse on the body:

  • Physical Effects – poor vision, poor co-ordination, poor reaction speed
  • Mental Effects – poor concentration, lack of morale, low self-esteem

Effects of alcohol abuse on companies:

  • Increased health and safety risks – more accidents occur
  • Decreased productivity – staff are not as productive at work
  • Increased absenteeism – staff often miss more days from work
  • Increased health costs
  • Labour turnover increases
  • Increased legal liability
  • Conflict in the workplace

Did you know?

  • A beverage containing 2 units of alcohol or more consumed within 20 to 30 minutes could place the average man on or over the legal limit for normal drivers within 1 hour.
  • A beverage containing 1 unit of alcohol or more consumed within 20 to 30 minutes could place the average man on or over the legal limit for Professional Drivers within 1 hour.

What constitutes "One Unit of alcohol"?

  • One Unit = 2/3 of a can of beer; 75 ml 14% red wine; 90 ml 12% white wine; 25 ml (1 tot) 43% spirits.
  • One unit normally equates to 0,02g/100ml (0.02% BAC) in the blood, or 0,10 mg/l of breath.

The calculation is as follows:

The percentage alcohol strength of the drink multiplied by the volume thereof divided by 10 will give the unit strength:

A 330ml 5,5% (beer) is thus: 5,5/100 x 330 = 18,15/10 = 1,815 units

A stronger beer is thus almost 2 units.

In the newer size can packaging or a draft of 500ml, the same beer equates to 2,75 units. Drinking one such beer in an hour could place the average person very close to or over the limit, but two in the hour will most certainly do so.

Laws relevant to alcohol and substance abuse in South Africa

  • The Adjudication and Administration of Road Traffic Offences Act
  • National Road Traffic Act No. 93 of 1996
  • Mine Health and Safety Act 1996, No 29 of 1996
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act No. 85 of 1993 – (OHSA) section 8 and 14 OHSA General Safety regulations 2A
  • Labour Relations Act No. 66 of 1995
  • Employment Equity Act No. 55 of 1998
  • Basic Conditions of Employment Act No. 75 of 1997
  • Compensation for Occupational Diseases and Injuries Act No. 130 of 1993
  • Merchants Shipping Act no. 57 of 1951

Links to Road Safety Partners