What fine? It’s straight to jail for first-time drink drivers

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Drink driving offenders will no longer be slapped with fines but will also be jailed once the Road Transport Act (Amendment) Bill 2020, to be tabled at the Dewan Negara next week, is passed and gazetted.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the amendment sees the incorporation of the words fine and imprisonment, instead of fine and “shall be liable” to imprisonment, for those whose Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) exceeds the permitted level.

“The amendment will provide for fines and imprisonment. This means there is no option and offenders must be sent to jail. There is no compromise anymore.

“In the past, offenders could take it lightly thinking that they will only be fined for their first offence. But in the future, heavier sentences await them.

“If they are caught a second time, it will be even worse. We have to send a strong signal that we are serious. We are not taking away the rights of one to drink but they must not drive after consuming liquor,” Wee said after launching the #CelebrateResponsibly campaign here today.

Wee said the ministry would work with other enforcement agencies on being equipped with the latest technology and tools such as breathalysers and ways to increase enforcement efficiency.

He said after a breathalyser test, the results of the offender’s BAC results would be analysed and a chemist report would be produced in court as evidence.

“Our object is not to make people’s life difficult. As long as one follows the law, they will be safe. The government is not interested in getting revenue through fines but this is to protect lives and families.

“The amendment is expected to be tabled at the Dewan Negara on Tuesday or Wednesday. I hope with the support of all Dewan Negara members, we will pass the bill and get the consent from the King within 30 days and subsequently be gazetted,” said Wee.

He added that a comprehensive multi-pronged approach focused on raising awareness on drink driving at all layers of society as well as enforcement will be conducted.

Wee said there were suggestions that Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder be used against drink driving offenders who cause deaths but such a decision should not be done based on emotions.

“Logically, the victim’s families would want to see the accused be imposed with the death sentence. But in Malaysia, to establish intention, it must be beyond reasonable doubt under Section 302 of the Penal Code.

“We cannot simply say the accused had the intention to kill a person. It is not easy and that is why in the amendment we have revised all the penalties including fines, imprisonment as well as suspension of driving licences. I think that is sufficient to serve as a deterrent,” he said. NST

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