Drinking alcohol affects driving skills and increases the likelihood that the driver will engage in risk-taking behaviour. You don’t have to be drunk to be affected by alcohol. You might feel normal, but no one drives as well after drinking alcohol. Studies have also shown that a driver’s risk of being involved in a casualty crash doubles for every increase of 0.05 above zero BAC. View more on alcohol involvement in road crashes (PDF).
While most of the attention is focused on people who drink and drive, cyclists and pedestrians affected by alcohol also risk being killed or injured on our roads.
Alcohol has been identified as a significant risk factor in collisions involving a pedestrian with around a quarter of pedestrian fatalities found to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal driving limit of 0.05. Over half of those who had been affected by alcohol were found to have a blood alcohol concentration more than 4 times the legal limit.
Research also shows that a single drink increases the risk of death or serious injury by five times. Cyclists who are affected by alcohol were also less likely to wear a helmet. Those who have lost their driver’s licence and switch to cycling as a means of transport may be putting themselves at even greater risk if they continue to drink and use the roads.
Allow time to recover
Alcohol affects people differently
Keeping your BAC under .05
Don’t combine alcohol with drugs or other medicines
Tips for getting home safely
If you have been drinking, you have to allow time for the alcohol in your bloodstream to reduce before you drive. Cold showers, exercise, black coffee, fresh air or a big meal do not help to reduce your BAC.
If you have had a heavy night of drinking, you may be over the limit for much of the next day – the more you drink, the more time you must allow.
So, if you are planning to drink, then plan NOT to drive.
The effect of alcohol varies greatly from person to person and is influenced by a variety of factors, including:
To help you avoid going over the limit try the following:
Do not drink alcohol when you are taking other drugs. Even small amounts of alcohol in combination with drugs or medications can reduce your ability to drive.
This applies to medicines prescribed by your doctor, bought in a supermarket or pharmacy.
If you are going to be drinking, plan an alternative way of getting home, other than driving. For example:
From 1 February 2010, any person who commits a drink or drug driving offence will face tougher penalties, including:
For example, if a person has, within the previous five years, expiated or been convicted of one of the following offences they will require an alcohol or drug dependency assessment.
A blood sample must be taken from any person 10 years or older, who attends or is admitted to hospital for treatment as a result of a boat or motor vehicle accident (previously the minimum age was 14 years). In addition, South Australia Police will now be able to test boat operators for prescribed drugs (including cannabis, speed and ecstasy) under the same conditions as drug testing for vehicle drivers.
|Category 1 drink driving offence - an offence between 0.05 and less than 0.08 BAC|
|Category 2 drink driving offence - an offence between 0.08 and less than 0.15 BAC|
|A serious drink driving offence includes:|
|Driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor|
|Refusing to provide a sample of breath or blood for alcohol testing|
|Driving with a BAC at or above 0.15|
|Driving with a BAC at or above 0.08 where a previous alcohol offence exists within the last 5 years.|
Under the Road Traffic Act 1961, it is an offence to:
The prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) is the level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at, or above which, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle. The PCA limit varies, depending on the type of licence held.
A person who drives, or attempts to drive a motor vehicle with more than the 'prescribed concentration' of alcohol in the person's blood is guilty of an offence (s47B(1)). The severity of the penalties imposed will depend on how much the driver exceeds the prescribed concentration of alcohol.
The PCA for holders of an unconditional licence or qualified supervising drivers accompanying a learner driver is 0.05 BAC.
The PCA for learner, provisional and probationary drivers, as well as drivers of buses, taxis, heavy vehicles and vehicles carrying dangerous goods is ZERO.
Where learner, provisional and probationary drivers are caught driving with a BAC greater than zero, they may be charged with both breaching their licence conditions and the offence of driving with the prescribed concentration of alcohol.
“Drivers and riders can be stopped at random by any police officer at any time, anywhere in South Australia, and tested for alcohol as well as prescribed drugs. This includes passengers acting as a qualified supervising driver for a learner driver”.
A person who drives, or attempts to drive a motor vehicle while so much under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug (either prescription or illicit) as to be incapable of exercising effective control of the vehicle is guilty of an offence (s47(1)).
Driving under the influence, more commonly referred to as DUI, is not the same as driving with the prescribed concentration of alcohol. Even if your BAC is less than 0.05, you may still be charged with DUI if your driving ability is impaired because of the effects of alcohol or other drugs. Factors that are likely to contribute towards this offence are the manner in which the vehicle was being driven and any signs of intoxication (including observations by the police and other witnesses), the smell of alcohol about the driver, unsteadiness, watery or bloodshot eyes and slow or slurred speech.
It is an offence to refuse, or to fail to comply with, a direction of a police officer in relation to an alcotest or breath analysis (s47E(3)).
From 1 May 2009, a mandatory Alcohol Interlock Scheme will operate in South Australia. Information about the mandatory Scheme and how it operates is available here.
The existing voluntary Alcohol Interlock Scheme will be phased out over a period of five years and transitional arrangements have been made for current participants so they can complete their time on the program.
An alcohol interlock device is fitted to a motor vehicle to monitor a driver’s BAC preventing the vehicle from being started or operated if the driver’s BAC exceeds a zero reading.
DPTI has launched an online survey seeking feedback on the newly-released draft Railway Crossing Safety Strategy.
Visitors to South Australia are being better equipped to stay safe on the roads with the launch of a new video series.
Sections of seven roads in the Riverland, Murray Mallee and Murray Bridge will be resealed improving safety and extending the life of each road.
The second stage of a $9 million upgrade of a major rural road connecting the upper Yorke Peninsula towns of Bute and Kulpara will begin in March.