Wednesday (today) is the last day for motorists or other concerned parties to voice their opinion on a series of changes to the National Road Traffic Act of 1996 which are about to be instituted, in the form of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill.
Most controversially among these is the total ban on alcohol for drivers, meaning even half a beer would be enough to get you in trouble with the law if you were to get behind the wheel afterward.
The Portfolio Committee on Transport noted that during the first call for submissions, just 6,900 were received – a small number when compared to the amount of registered drivers on South Africa’s roads.
There are a number of changes which will directly impact motorists. Here are some highlights of the bill:
- Alcohol will be forbidden for drivers;
- Upping requirements for driving schools and instructors,
- Clarity on reissuing surrendered driver’s licences;
- Official registration for number plate manufacturers;
- And preventing the use of authorised aid during a learner’s or driver’s licence test.
How much alcohol is now legal?
Aside from public alcohol consumption being illegal under adjusted level 3 lockdown, the current legal blood alcohol limit for driving is less than 0.05g per 100ml of blood.
The alcohol breath limit is 0.24mg in 1,000ml of breath.
The transport department now intends to take a zero tolerance stance to alcohol found in blood specimens.
“No person shall on a public road drive a vehicle or occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle the engine of which is running while there is any concentration of alcohol in any specimen taken from any part of his or her body,” the bill reads.
This means that if any concentration of alcohol is found in a specimen of blood taken within two hours of a driver’s drunk driving allegations, they will be prosecuted.
Number plate registration
Anyone that works on a car, including number plate manufacturers, must be registered, and subsequently accept if their business is not deemed fit to manufacture number plates.
This includes blank number plate manufacturers and suppliers, those that make number plate reflective sheeting, manufacturers that emboss or sell number plates, and those that manufacture or supply microdots.
Microdots were made compulsory in 2012, with all motor vehicles registered in the country having to have microdot identification. This includes new, used and re-registered cars.
Microdots are transparent discs made of polyester or metal that are no larger than 1.8mm in diameter. When a vehicle is expose to ultra-violet lighting, it shows the location of the microdots on it. They are sprayed onto a vehicle or even a bicycle, and give each vehicle a unique DNA.
The Microdot Association of South Africa explained that this eases vehicle identification, and makes it “impossible” for stolen cars to have their identification changed.
In 2019/20, there were 88,000 reports of motor vehicle theft, which affected 0.5% of South African households, according to Statistics South Africa.
Microdots also assist in identifying illegally imported foreign cars or parts.
Driver’s and learner’s licences
Any learner’s licence applicants caught using “unauthorised aid” during their test will not be allowed to reapply for a rewrite anytime soon. The maximum reapplication limit is 24 months.
The same applies for driver’s licence tests.
Any driving instructors with a criminal record, or who has been convicted or paid an admission of guilt fine for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot be registered as an instructor.
Comments must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, 20 January 2021.
Compiled by Nica Richards.