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Safe driving tips

Alcohol and drugs

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. Drugs like cannabis, speed and ecstasy can impair performance on driving-related tasks.

Don't mix driving with alcohol or drugs (including medicine). To avoid the risks plan ahead.

  • Designate a non-drinking driver, if you are with others.
  • Catch a taxi home.
  • Use public transport.
  • Stay the night.
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up - only accept a lift if you are certain the driver has not been drinking or using drugs.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1961, it is an offence to:

  • drive with a prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA)
  • drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
  • refuse to comply with directions from a police officer in relation to an alcotest or breath analysis (Refusal to blow).

Drink driving is one of the main causes of road deaths in South Australia. Drinking alcohol affects driving skills and increases the likelihood that the driver will engage in risk-taking behaviour.

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.

Learner, provisional and probationary drivers who 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.

Remember
Allow time to recover - if you have been drinking you have to allow time for the alcohol in your blood stream to reduce before you drive. Coffee, exercise, food or cold showers make no difference.
Alcohol affects people differently - the effect of alcohol varies greatly from person to person. Body size, body fat, gender, level of fitness and health of their liver.
Keeping your BAC under .05 - to help you avoid going over the limit try starting with a soft drink, drink light alcoholic drinks, stick to one type of drink, alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and don't let people top up your glass.
Don't combine alcohol with drugs or other medicines - 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.

Tips for getting home safely

If you are going to be drinking, plan an alternative way of getting home, other than driving.  For example:

  • designate a non-drinking driver
  • catch a taxi home
  • use public transport
  • stay the night (make sure you are not still over the limit in the morning!)
  • arrange for someone to pick you up
  • only accept a lift if you are certain the driver has not been drinking or using other drugs.

Prescribed concentration of alcohol

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.

Heads up!

"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".

Driving under the influence

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.

Refuse to blow

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)).

More information

Contact that Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1300 13 1340 or visit www.dassa.sa.gov.au for more information.

Drug driving is one of a number of contributors to road deaths in South Australia.

South Australia Police conduct random roadside saliva testing to detect the presence of three illegal drugs including:

  • THC - the active component in cannabis
  •     
  • Methylamphetamine - also known as speed, ice or crystal meth
  •     
  • 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) - also known as ecstasy.

These types of drugs have been shown to have the potential to increase the risk of road crashes. Laboratory testing, driving simulators and 'on road' testing has shown that these drugs can impair performance on driving-related tasks.

Many drivers remain unaware of the effects that these types of drugs can have on their driving ability - including impaired coordination, muscle weakness, impaired reaction time, poor vision, an inability to judge distance and speed and distortions of time, place and space.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1961, it is an offence to

  • drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle with THC
  •     
  • Methylamphetamine or
  •     
  • MDMA present in your oral fluid or blood.

Unlike drink driving, where a prescribed concentration of alcohol must be present for an offence to have been committed, the presence of any amount of the drugs tested will constitute an offence.

Random roadside tests

Drivers and riders can be stopped at random by any police officer at any time anywhere in South Australia, and tested for these three illegal drugs as well as alcohol.  This includes a passenger acting as qualified supervising driver for a learner driver.

While the saliva test does not detect prescription or common over the counter medications such as cold and flu tablets, drivers who are impaired by other drugs (either prescription or illicit) will continue to be prosecuted under section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 for the existing offence of driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug - commonly referred to as 'DUI'.

Random roadside saliva tests are conducted to improve road safety.  The legislation does not allow police to use the test results or admissions or evidence relating to the tests for anything other than driving-related offences.

It is an offence to refuse, or to fail to comply with, a request for a drug screening test, oral fluid analysis or blood test.

More information

MAC drink driving
SAPOL

Contact that Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1300 13 13 40 or visit Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia for more information.

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