Bill to provide stiff penalties for drink and reckless driving passed

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong says the rich and the poor will be treated equally when punishment is meted out for driving under the influence and reckless driving.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020, which will see an increase in penalties for those driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and for reckless driving, was passed with a simple voice vote in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Those causing death while driving under the influence will be imprisoned between 10 and 15 years, and fined between RM50,000 and RM100,000.

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said the poor and the rich would be fined equally as a deterrent against reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

He said the hefty fines were not to punish the poor or to increase the government’s revenue but to ensure people follow the advice of “don’t drink and drive.”

He said this to a question by Ngeh Koo Ham (PH-Beruas), who said the poor might not be able to pay, and due to that, it would be best to allow the court to decide on the fines.

Wee said the law was not meant to restrict people from their right to consume alcohol but it became a problem when they drove under the influence of alcohol.

In wrapping up the debate on the bill, he said 345,000 survey forms were sent to the public, including youths, religious groups and professionals, before the bill was drawn up, and that the majority supported the bill.

A public debate on stiffer fines began after a 31-year-old policeman manning an MCO roadblock near the Kajang Selatan toll plaza on the Lekas Expressway in May was killed by a drunk driver.

Wee said the government would create awareness of the bill among the people. “When there is awareness and enforcement is done, then people will be more afraid to get behind the wheel after drinking,” he said.

He said discussions were being held with e-hailing companies to display stickers on their vehicles to encourage people to use their service if they had taken alcoholic drinks.

The minimum fine for first-time offenders will be raised from RM5,000 to RM20,000, with the maximum fine raised from RM20,000 to RM50,000.

First-time offenders will face a minimum of five years in jail, compared with two years currently. The maximum jail term remains at 10 years.

For subsequent convictions, offenders will be fined between RM20,000 and RM100,000, compared with the current fine of RM5,000 to RM50,000.

Prison time for subsequent offenders will also be increased to between 10 and 15 years.

First-time offenders will not be allowed to hold a driving licence for a maximum of five years. For subsequent offences, the penalty will be doubled to 10 years.

For those causing death while driving under the influence, the punishment will be imprisonment of between 10 and 15 years, and a fine of between RM50,000 and RM100,000.