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Laws on Alcohol Consumption by Motor Vehicle Passengers

Question:

Is it illegal for passengers to consume alcohol in a motor vehicle while it is being driven on a public road?

Answer:

At present, the question of passengers drinking whilst being transported is not covered in the National Road Traffic legislation. It is not a problem per se for passengers to drink while being transported; the problem sits with the sober driver who is entrusted with taking care of his passengers while travelling. For example, the driver needs to ensure passengers do not hang out of the moving vehicle as in this case the driver could be prosecuted.

However, passengers must bear in mind that they may be charged for drinking in public in terms of national legislation. Section 154(1)(c) of the Liquor Act 27 of 1989 provides that a person who is drunk in or near:

  • any road, street, lane, thoroughfare, square, park or market;
  • any ship, warehouse or public garage;

shall be guilty of an offence and may be prosecuted accordingly.

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