FEDHASA on NRT amendment bill moving forward without the 0% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit proposal 

The hospitality and tourism industry has breathed a sigh of relief as the Portfolio Committee overseeing the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, recently rejected provisions in the Bill that sought to criminalise driving a vehicle in South Africa with any traces of alcohol in the blood.

The Bill was introduced on 29 May 2020, with public hearings held in March 2021 and deliberations by the Portfolio Committee on Transport being held from June 2021 to January 2022.  FEDHASA presented to the Portfolio Committee, examples of why the proposed provisions were flawed, unfair, and in fact impractical.

To provide some context, there are many foods and hygiene products that could cause false positives for alcohol testing. 

Eating baker’s yeast with sugar, drinking large amounts of apple juice, or even eating ripe bananas may cause detectable amounts of EtG and EtS in urine. Mouthwash and breath spray may also present false positives for alcohol, as could vanilla, vinegar, and low carbohydrate diets.  In addition, diabetics or people who are on a low-carb diet may enter ketosis, a process where the body burns fat for energy, which creates acetone – leading to a false positive on a device.

Should the proposed amendment have moved forward, it would have been damaging to tourism and hospitality, and an additional barrier to international tourists seeking to visit South Africa. 

The Bill with the exclusion of the 0% alcohol limit for drivers, is currently before the Select Committee on Transport, Public Service and Administration, Public Works and Infrastructure in the National Council of Provinces, which has called for public comments on the Bill. 

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