You might be surprised to hear the laws surrounding drinking and driving in South Africa are relatively strict. You only need to have consumed a small amount of liquor for it to become a crime for you to get behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. If you drink too much and get pulled over during a roadblock or for some other unforeseen reason, you might require the services of a drunk driving lawyer.
A drunk driving lawyer can assist you if you have broken the law by drinking and driving. South African law states that you may not occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle while the engine is running or drive the vehicle if your blood alcohol level is more than 0.05 grams per 100 milliliters.
Before you get worried about drinking and driving, it might be a good idea to discuss what would constitute drinking and driving according to South African law. Once you understand this aspect, it will be easier to know whether you will require the services of a drunk driving lawyer and what you can expect if the police pull you over for drinking and driving.
When Should You Contact A Drunk Driving Lawyer?
When it comes to drinking and driving, the reality is that if you are caught by police and found to have too high a blood alcohol level, there is a good chance that without proper representation, you might land up with a criminal record.
A criminal record can adversely affect your life, including job and travelling opportunities. If you employ the services of a drunk driving lawyer, someone who specialises in these situations, you can be sure that they will strive to ensure the most favourable possible outcome of your case.
In the case of first offenders, this might even mean that the charge does not result in a conviction, which means that it will not appear on your criminal record. For repeat offenders, your lawyer will work towards the best possible sentence for you. This sentence might include a fine, community service, or a period of imprisonment (although this doesn’t often happen).
One of the other things to consider, especially in South Africa, is that many of these types of cases suffer from seriously long delays between the date of your arrest and the date that you first appear in court.
Suppose you are working with a drunk driving lawyer. In that case, they can assist you by writing to the Director of Public Prosecutions to request that they withdraw the charges pending the outcome of your blood results. This withdrawal will ensure that your charge does not affect any business travelling you may need to do in the interim.
How Much Do You Need To Drink To Push You Over The Limit?
It doesn’t take much to push you over the limit regarding alcohol consumption. According to Section 65 of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996, in South Africa, you are over the legal limit if your blood alcohol level is not less than 0.05g per 100ml for an average driver. Although, if you are a professional driver, your blood alcohol level must only be 0.02g per 100ml or over to exceed the limit.
It is relatively easy to exceed the limit, you only need to consume two beers in quick succession or a double shot of spirits, and you will have hit the mark. You may not feel intoxicated after consuming this amount of alcohol, but according to the law, you will be over the limit and legally should not be driving a vehicle.
If the police pull you over while you are over the legal limit, you might be liable to pay a fine of a minimum of R2000. You can also face imprisonment of up to but not exceeding six years. If found guilty, you will receive a criminal record, and you can only apply for the expungement of this record after ten years. You are also at risk of having your license suspended.
What To Expect If You Are Caught Drinking And Driving?
Suppose you are over the legal alcohol limit and are pulled over during a roadblock or at any other stage while driving your vehicle. Typically, there is a process that you can expect the Police Officers to follow.
- First, the Police Officer will ask you if you have been drinking. If you know you are over the limit, the best action is, to be honest with the Police Officer. Lying will only worsen the situation.
- Next, it will be up to the Police Officers’ discretion as to whether or not they will breathalyse you. If they decide to follow this route, you might be asked to step out of your vehicle and move to an area where they are conducting the tests, or they might perform the test in your car.
- Suppose you are found to be over the limit. In that case, the officer conducting the test will inform you of the outcome, and you will be placed into Police transportation to take you to the nearest clinic, hospital, or mobile blood clinic to have blood taken.
- At this point, it is your right to ensure that the needle used is sterilized, new, and taken out of a sealed package. You also have the right to request that your medical practitioner be present while they take your blood.
- After your blood has been taken, you will be transported to the nearest Police Station to be processed. You might have to remain in the Police Station overnight or longer if it is the weekend. If you can contact your drunk driving lawyer, they might be able to get you out on bail sooner.
- Once you have been correctly processed, your valuables will be returned to you. You will also be given two documents, a Notice of Rights and a Bail Receipt or Warning to Appear.
- You will need to appear at the specified Magistrate’s Court on the date and time allocated on your paperwork. If you do not appear in court at the correct time, you could lose your bail amount, and the Courts may issue a warrant for your arrest.
The process surrounding a drunk driving charge can be tricky, long-winded, and tedious if you don’t know the correct procedures. The best thing for you to do if you have been arrested for drinking and driving would be to contact a drunk driving lawyer to help you get the best possible outcome of your unfortunate situation.
At Burnett Attorneys & Notaries, we understand these unfortunate situations can arise. If you have been arrested for drinking and driving, feel like you have been unlawfully or unfairly treated, or are looking for advice, our team would be glad to assist you in any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to contact us; we will strive to help you to the best of our ability.