The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) set many motorists shaking in their boots recently when it revealed that it’s advocating for stricter sanctions against drunk driving ahead of the festive season.

If the organisation gets its way, driving under the influence would be reclassified from a schedule 2 offence to a hefty schedule 5 offence, which automatically guarantees longer jail sentences and stricter bail conditions.

The RTMC wants motorists who are caught driving under the influence to spend at least seven days in holding cells before they can even be considered for bail.

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Furthermore, motorists who are arrested for driving under the influence face a minimum fine of R2 000, a two year jail sentence or both.

But, this isn’t where your worries end.

Christelle Colman, Old Mutual Insure Executive for high-net-worth solutions, warns motorists there’s more at stake.

“The insurance implications for drunk driving are also serious and could cost motorists dearly,” she says. The biggest of which is a claim that could potentially be declined.

“Insurers won’t pay claims if it’s been proven that a driver was under the influence at the time of the accident.”

The fact that insurers are only required to fulfil civil standards in so far as proving that a client was under the influence, means that it is a whole lot easier for them to prove that alcohol was involved. Criminal standards in contrast, require that it be proved beyond reasonable doubt that you were over the limit.

Short-term insurance ombudsman Deanne Wood says this is why so many accident claims are rejected.

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“Many restaurants have CCTV cameras and the insurers will get the footage and watch what you, as the driver, were doing and if you consumed alcohol before you had your crash. That is sufficient to repudiate a claim,” Wood said in an interview with 702. 

Colman warns that motorists who drive under the influence also risk their insurer dumping them and the strong likelihood is that you will invariably pay higher premiums.

“Driving under the influence impacts their risk profile and offenders may find insurers refusing to cover them following a drunk driving incident, or at the very least, their premiums will be very high,” she warns.

So before you get behind the wheel after a few too many, have a think about the financial implications of your decision and, of course, the risk you pose to your life and the lives of others.