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How does drunk driving affect your car insurance?

Monday, February 10, 2020

Yes, absolutely. If you have a criminal record or past record of drunk driving, your car insurance agency will see this as a risk for future car cover. This behavior will be considered reckless driving and will lead to paying more to get your car covered. Most car insurance agencies, including Dialdirect, will not pay out any claim which involves drunk driving. Drunk driving is a major cause for concern in South Africa, with thousands being impacted by its ramifications each year. We look at how many people get affected by drunk driving, the legal drink-drive limit and what penalties drunk drivers could face.


Drunk Driving Statistics


According to Arrive Alive, close to 50% of the total fatal car crash victims on South African roads tested positive for above-legal limits of alcohol in their blood. And with over 13,000 deaths on our roads each year, half of them had alcohol prior to their accidents, meaning they could have potentially been avoided. The peak times for drunk driving are during holiday seasons, with Christmas/New Year and Easter Holidays showing spikes in road accident figures presented by Arrive Alive. 


Legal Drink Drive Limit


We all promote a zero-tolerance approach to drinking and driving, however, there are legal limits to driving with alcohol. The National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) issued the following Blood Alcohol Content limits:

  • Blood: 0.05gm per 100ml
  • Breath: 0.24gm per 100ml

Anything over this measurement level when tested by officials may result in an arrest with a criminal record indicating drunk driving. Insurance agencies will request to see any driving and criminal record to see if there is a history of drunk driving. 


What Happens When Drunk Drivers Get Caught


Drivers who break the law on local roads face fines issues by the Administration Adjudication of Road Traffic Offence Act (AARTO). These fines are payable at AARTO offices or online platforms, including certain banks. According to AARTO, these fines are used to fund road safety and other road improvement projects. Certain fines, such as drunk driving, face direct legal prosecution and could result in court and an issued jail term.


Possible Future Penalties and Driver Demerit


To combat ongoing traffic violations which include speeding and drunk driving, AARTO will be introducing a Driver Demerit points system which is valid for all South African drivers – to be effective from June 2020. The system works on a points deductions basis, where all drivers start with a total of 13 points and each traffic violation will result in a deduction of an amount. The point deductions range between minor incidents like driving without a seatbelt to drunk driving, which could result in a large points loss. If all the points are lost, the driver’s license is revoked.

The Driver Demerit system is proposed to run alongside the existing fines system, which means perpetrators could face a hefty fine and points lost for each offense. In addition to these new regulations, the department will also introduce a 0% legal blood-alcohol limit. Meaning that drivers will not be allowed to drink alcohol and drive, at all.


Will Car Insurance Pay When Drunk Driving Occurs?


If you are tested positive for alcohol levels above the legal limit, most car insurance agencies will not pay out your claim. However, if you are involved in an accident where a drunk driver crashed into you, the car insurance company may pay out your claim as the incident is not your fault. Your car insurance policy will state what the implications are when drunk driving is discussed, and what your rights and expectations can be if you are involved in an accident while drunk driving or caused by a drunk driver.

If you would like to discuss the legal implications of drunk driving and how it affects car insurance, give us a call on 0861 007 367 or connect with us online today.


Dialdirect is an authorised FSP and insurer. Ts and Cs online.