Amendments for tougher punishment for drink driving to be tabled next month

The government is proposing stiffer punishment for those found guilty of reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

PETALING JAYA: Amendments to the Road Transport Act to provide for stiffer punishment for those found guilty of reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat next month, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said.

He said the draft of the amendments has been sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and will be tabled at the Cabinet meeting in two weeks’ time.

In an interview with Bernama in conjunction with his first 100 days as transport minister, Wee said there is strong support for heavier punishment for offenders because it transcends racial, religious and political interests.

He said he has even received messages from his friends in the opposition expressing support for the move.

Wee said a survey involving more than 345,000 respondents showed that 94% supported the proposal to impose heavier penalties by way of fines, jail terms and disqualification from driving.

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong.

Under Section 45A (1) of the Act, anyone found guilty of drink driving can be fined between RM1,000 and RM6,000 or jailed for up to 12 months.

For fatal accidents caused by drink driving, Section 44 of the Act provides for a maximum fine of RM10,000 and a jail term of up to 12 months.

Wee said despite calls for drunk drivers in fatal accident cases to be charged with murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, the government will not act hastily and will be guided by the principles of law.

He said Section 302 requires the prosecution to prove that the drunk driver had the intention to kill.

“We don’t want them to go scot-free due to the failure to prove intention. We have to go by the principles of law … we may be angry but we should not act hastily,” he said.

Wee also said the government is prepared to lower the permissible alcohol content levels to define drink driving, which now stand at 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood or 107 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine.

“Many countries use the minimum levels set by the World Health Organization (WHO), that is 0.05g/dl, and some want the alcohol content of drivers to be at 0% but this is difficult because if we drink cough medicine, for example, it will show alcohol reading, and this matter needs to be fine-tuned,” he said.

Wee said the government is reviewing the laws to ensure the welfare of the next of kin of those killed by drunk drivers is taken care of.

He also said the previous plan by the transport ministry on the mandatory use of child safety seats in vehicles will not be abolished but the ministry will review the approach to be taken.

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