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Government wants harsher punishments for drunk driving

Shaira Idris
Written by Shaira Idris

KUALA LUMPUR – July 15, 2020: The government has decided to introduce harsher punishments for drunk driving.

The recent Cabinet approval to amend several laws, particularly Sections 41 to 45 of the Road Transport Act will see the increase of penalties for drunk driving and offenses of reckless driving and driving under the influence of drugs.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong today said the proposed amendments will increase penalties for those offences in terms of fines, imprisonment and suspension of driving license.

He said the drafting of the proposed amendments will be finalised by end of this month before being tabled in parliament.

He emphasised that the rising number of fatal accidents caused by drunk driving has prompted a call for the government to initiate a move to prevent such tragedies.

“There have been 12 such deaths this year alone. It is a serious problem that needs to be resolved, hence (the legal) amendments must be made immediately,” Wee told the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said under the government’s proposal, the maximum fine for first-time offenders will be increased to RM100,000 from the current RM20,000, while repeat offenders may be fined up to RM150,000. 

Those who fail to pay the fines will be subject to mandatory sentencing, he added.

Moreover, manslaughter offenders in drunk driving cases will not only face long-term imprisonment but also a driving license suspension of between five to 20 years.

“We will make imprisonment a mandatory punishment. Previously, the law stated that you could either be fined or jailed but this time, you will certainly be both fined and jailed.

“In addition, action will be taken against those attempting to evade breathalyser tests and even those sitting in the driver’s seat of their parked vehicles,” he said.

Wee also said the ministry has looked into adopting the standard for blood alcohol content (BAC) set by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO).

“The current threshold of 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath will be reduced to 22 micrograms… The BAC limit will be lowered from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (0.08), to 50mg (0.05),” he said.

Wee hoped that the proposed stricter laws will serve as a “deterrent” to those who consider getting behind the wheel after drinking. 

“This law does not deprive people of their right to drink. You may drink as much as you like… Just don’t drive and put the safety of others at risk,” he said.

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Shaira Idris

Shaira Idris

Shaira is a 20-something accidental journalist who's currently still adapting to the world of journalism and learning the ropes of her job.