JOHANNESBURG - With the festive period fast approaching, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has issued a warning to South African drivers that they will be implementing a zero tolerance policy against drinking and driving this festive season. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that of all the accidents that occur on South African roads, 58% are attributed to alcohol and, according to Arrive Alive, research indicates that 50% of people who die on our roads have a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres - the legal limit.

Motorists should take this warning seriously as the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is pushing for tougher legal action against drunk drivers. It wants driving under the influence to be reclassified from a schedule 2 to schedule 5 offence ensuring that offenders are not granted bail easily and that time is spent behind bars - the RTMC wants drunk drivers to spend at least seven days in jail before they can be considered for bail. If arrested, offenders face a minimum fine of R2000 or a two-year prison sentence, or both.

But that’s not all that motorists need to consider, says Christelle Colman, an executive for High-Net-Worth Solutions at Old Mutual Insure: “The insurance implications for drunk driving are also serious and could cost motorists dearly. Insurers won’t pay claims if it’s been proven that drivers were under the influence at the time of the accident. Not only that, but it also impacts their risk profile and offenders may find insurers refusing to cover them following a drunk driving incident, or at the very least, their premiums will be very high.”

Furthermore, Colman says that road accidents generally increase over holiday periods. 

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