The government introduced a new set of laws last year in response to the increasing incidents of blatant drunk driving in our country, and according to a new comment by the Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, these efforts seem to be serving their purpose.
Speaking during the Ministers’ Question Time session at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Dr Wee said that from January until July this year, the total number of fatal car crashes stood at 2,560 cases – among which, 11 cases were due to the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Additionally, the Ministry is also working with the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) on an ongoing study to understand the impact of the harsher penalties for those driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. “From what we have found, the mandatory jail term does serve as a deterrent.”
The Minister said that there has been a change of mindset from previous times since the introduction of the harsher penalties, where previously many would just drive home after having drinks. “This is among the steps the ministry has taken to prevent fatal accidents,” he added.
The Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020, passed in the Senate in September 2020, contains 15 main clauses against driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Among which, first-time offenders convicted for drunk driving causing injuries (but not death) will face a jail term of seven to 10 years, and slapped with a fine of RM30,000-RM50,000. Repeat offenders meanwhile will see penalties increased to 10-15 years jail time, and a fine between RM50,000 and RM100,000.
For fatal accidents due to drunk driving, first time offenders will be jailed between 10 and 15 years, and fined between RM50,000 and RM100,000, with the driving licence being disqualified for 10 years. Subsequent offences will see a jail term of 15 to 20 years, and a maximum fine of up to RM150,000, while their driving licence will be revoked for a period of 20 years.
Additionally, the bill also reduced the permissible alcohol content limit to 22 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath; 50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, and 67 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine, in line with the World Health Organisation standards used in many countries throughout the world. These levels were previously 35 micrograms, 80 mg, and 107 mg.
In related news, Dr Wee also revealed that there were 807 accidents involving vehicles going against the flow of traffic since January this year. “From the total, 29 fatalities were recorded, 17 cases had serious injuries, 49 with minor injuries and 712 cases involving damage,” he said.
The minister added that studies have shown that human factors were among the main contributors to car accidents, especially for those who were speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and not focusing on driving because of the use of mobile phones and road navigation apps.
[source: The Star]