Drink-drive let-off for official causes a storm
A Shenzhen court's decision to let a drink-driving official walk free because the distance involved was too short has sparked an online outcry.
The official has now been suspended from duty pending further examination of his drink-driving case, Xinhua reported late yesterday.
Mo Wangsong, an official with a neighbourhood office in Shenzhen, was found to have 176.3 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, more than twice the legal limit for the charge of drink-driving, when he was stopped at a police checkpoint in the city late at night on November 30.
But even though the local procuratorate suggested a two-month jail term, the Longgang District People's Court decided that Mo could escape criminal liability because 'the driving distance was not far', according to local media. The procuratorate accepted the verdict, saying the court exercised discretion in its judgment.
The court has refused to release records of the case, saying they contain confidential information.
The authorities were applauded when they included drink-driving under the crime of dangerous driving in May last year after a string of serious drink-driving accidents.
Mo said he was let off because he drove only 100 metres, but court documents showed the distance to be one kilometre, according to the Southern Metropolis News, which first reported the case last week.
Legal experts said the distance driven should not have been relevant to sentencing because the new charge looks not at the consequences of drink-driving but targets the behaviour itself.
It should be the amount of alcohol, rather than the distance driven, that should be relevant, they said.
Making drink-driving a crime means a driver, rather than just being subjected to an administrative fine, can be jailed, have his driving licence revoked, and be stuck with a criminal record if found to have a blood alcohol level of more than 80mg/100ml.
Regulations specify that if a civil servant is found to be criminally liable he should be sacked and should have his Communist Party membership revoked.
The distance Shenzhen official Mo Wangsong said he drove when he was stopped. But court papers claimed the distance was 1 kilometre