TRANSPORT MEC Robin Carlisle has gone head-to-head with the national Department of Transport over a plan to lower the blood alcohol limit for drivers, saying it could lead to fewer, not more, prosecutions.
The Department of Transport is considering lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers from 0.05g/100ml to 0.02g/100ml.
Proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill will mean drivers will have to drink less than a can of beer, one shot of whisky or 75ml of wine. The proposal is open for public comment until August 18.
Yesterday Carlisle said he did not support the proposal and he has made a submission to the national department as part of a public participation process.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions is of the opinion that it may influence the outcome of the use of breathalysers due to the impact of physiological factors, especially with a reading below zero, thereby jeopardising successful prosecution. What that means is when you bring the limit down so much, other factors can play a role, so the smaller you make the interval, the higher the chance that other factors can play a role.”
This could lead to fewer rather than more prosecutions as test results might have “unintended consequences”.
Carlisle said the other reason he was not supporting the amendment was that there was no scientific evidence a further reduction in the alcohol limit would lead to fewer accidents.
Tiyani Rikhotso, spokesman for the Department of Transport, said: “We want to inculcate a culture of responsible behaviour on our roads. Thousands of people die on our roads needlessly. Alcohol has been identified as one of the major causes of road fatalities worldwide. These interventions need to be supported by responsible conduct on the part of motorists. They should realise that their negligence could cost someone’s life.”
Rikhotso said the department wanted views from all South Africans, welcomed Carlisle’s participation, and encouraged people to submit their views by the closing date.
The department would take all the public comments to Parliament where the Portfolio Committee on Transport as well as other legislative structures would be briefed, he said.