March 19, 2021
The National Road Traffic Amendment Act (NRTAA) comes into effect in June 2021 regarding zero tolerance of alcohol levels in the blood. In other words, drivers will not be allowed any alcoholic drinks before taking the wheel.1
Presently, South African drivers are allowed to consume alcohol before driving, but levels may not exceed 0.05g of alcohol /100 mL of blood (0.05%). In June 2021, only a 0% level of alcohol will be tolerated by authorities.
Drivers who are currently enjoying good cover on their cars will have to think twice about that quick drink before driving. The problem comes in when they are involved in an accident. If evidence shows that they were contravening the NRTAA, they will be in trouble with their car insurers.
In the past, it was always a challenge to establish if the driver was over the limit at the time of the accident and whether the alcohol affected driving ability. This ambiguity has been removed by the future implementation of the NRTAA.
It is well-known that car insurers have every right to reject a claim made by an insured driver who exceeded the legal limit of alcohol at the time of the accident. But soon, all doubt will be removed by the fact that any trace of alcohol in a driver’s blood will disqualify him or her from making a claim.
Imagine a driver hearing the next morning that their insurance claim has been rejected because traces of alcohol were found in his or her blood. Only one person is going to pay for the R50 000 damage, which will be the driver. To add to a driver’s woes, the insurer may well raise the premium, and the driver may be classified as a greater risk to the insurer. All that fall-out for just one drink - surely, it’s not worth it.
If the driver is convicted of drunk driving or a license is endorsed or suspended, the insurer may cancel the driver’s policy. This may result in the driver being rejected by other insurers in future.
After the initial implementation of the NRTAA, premiums should not be affected, but as the Act begins to bite, accidents may potentially occur less frequently. Once this trend appears to be established in the long term, insurers’ costs would diminish, resulting in the lowering of their car insurance premiums.
This article should only be considered for information purposes only as car insurance is not straightforward. Please obtain professional advice from a certified financial advisor if you want to purchase car insurance.
There is another facet to drinking while diving that South African motorists should consider. Car insurance companies may reject claims whereby it has been established that the client was contravening the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) by driving under the influence of alcohol.
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