Don’t drink and drive this Easter

Mutual & Federal, a member of the Old Mutual Group, has issued a pre-Easter warning to drivers saying they won’t be covered by their insurance policies if they’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol over the legal limit.

“Neither Mutual & Federal, nor any other insurer, will cover drivers who are caught driving under the influence of alcohol over the legal limit – even if they aren’t the cause of an accident,” says Louw Conradie, Regional Sales Manager, Northern Regional Office, Mutual & Federal.

“The message is simple: if you drink too much and drive, in effect, you are driving without insurance cover, leaving you liable to consequences including having to pay for damages, whether or not you caused an accident,” he says.

“Also, legal recourse could be taken by drivers of vehicles that were damaged, or by their insurers – consequences that could easily lead to an individual’s financial ruin.”

In addition, the growing numbers of expensive imported vehicles on the roads and sophisticated automotive design features have significantly increased the cost of vehicle repairs. “if you’re caught over the limit – without insurance cover, even a bumper-bashing can make a major dent in your personal finances. For instance, the cost of a windscreen and airbag replacement, excluding the cost of body-work repair, could easily exceed R50 000 on a luxury car.”

The blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.05 gram per 100ml of blood and 0.02g for professional drivers – which may be reached with as little as one glass of wine, depending on the person and a variety of factors. So how much can you consume and drive?

“According to experts, any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive. There is no foolproof way of drinking and staying under the limit, or of knowing how much an individual person can drink and still drive safely,” adds Conradie. “That’s because a range of factors affect blood alcohol including weight, gender, age, metabolism, current stress levels and food eaten.”

If you are found to be over the legal limit you could be arrested and face a maximum penalty for drinking and driving of a R120 000 fine and/or six years imprisonment. Your driver’s license may also be suspended and the Asset Forfeiture Unit could confiscate your car.

“The risks faced are simply too great, that’s why Mutual & Federal advises that you should not drink at all if you’re driving,” concludes Conradie. “During the Easter break, or for any other circumstance arrange for someone to pick you up (there are also specific companies who now offer this service) or choose a designated driver. If you’re over the limit, behind the steering wheel is the last place you should be.”