Lawbuntu Learn

Welcome to Lawbuntu Learn. Browse through the different legal topics to learn more about the law in South Africa.

Drinking and Driving

One moment can completely ruin your life.

Don’t drink and drive!

Rather call a taxi


Drinking and driving is a crime comitted when someone drives while drunk or on drugs.

The National Road Traffic Act, 93 of 1996, makes it an offence to ‘drink and drive’.


A person can be found guilty of drinking and driving in 3 different ways

  1. Behaviour
    • Where it is clear from your conduct that you are driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs: swerving between lanes whilst driving, slurred speech, and the inability to perform simple motor tests (such as touching your nose with your fingertip) are all classic examples of behaviour indicating that a person is driving under the influence.
    • A person can be convicted of having committed this crime even if he was not breathalysed or did not have his blood taken.
  2. Breath
    • In order to commit this crime the alcohol concentration in a person’s breath must be over the limit as measured using a scientific instrument (commonly known as a breathalyser).
  3. Blood
    • In order to commit this crime the alcohol concentration in your blood must exceed the limit.
    • The alcohol concentration in a person’s blood must be measured. This is normally done by the taking of a blood sample that is sent off for analysis at the State’s laboratory.

What is the limit?

There are different limits.

The limit on a breathalyser is 0.24.

A breathalyser reading of 0.24 or above is ‘over the limit’.

The blood limit is different.

The alcohol concentration allowed in a person’s blood is 0.05.

This can only be established by the analysis of a blood sample at a laboratory.


Because drinking and driving is dangerous!

According to the Arrive Alive initiative 13 967 people died from car accidents in the period between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2010 (38 people a day!)

Arrive Aliveestimates that 50% of drivers killed in car crashes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident.


If you are caught, you may go to prison

Don’t regret one irresponsible decision for the rest of your life

Who can take your blood?

Section 37 of the Criminal Procedure Act gives the police the right to take a sample of your blood in order to investigate a crime.

But the blood must be drawn by a doctor or registered nurse.

Can you insist that your blood is drawn by your own Doctor?

No. You do not have a right to demand that your blood is drawn by a doctor of your choice.

The best course of action is to co-operate with the SAPS.

In fact, failing to co-operate with the SAPS can amount to a separate crime in and of itself!

You will have a chance to test the lawfulness of the sample if and when your matter goes to court.

When must the blood be drawn?

The blood sample must be taken within two hours.

A blood sample that is taken more than two hours after a person was stopped/arrested is not admissible to prove that a person was driving under the influence.

DOWNLOAD Sections 65(3) and (5) of the National Road Traffic Act to understand the crime of 'drinking & driving' better.