Spelling out the dos and don'ts of drink-driving

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 April, 2009, 12:00am

About 40,000 pamphlets will be distributed to drivers to clear up common misconceptions about drink-driving, as doctors and lawyers join forces to reduce its prevalence.

The pamphlets, compiled by the Medical Association and the Law Society, answer medical and legal questions that people may be unaware of.

A car owner, for example, had legal responsibility and may be liable for compensation even if he was not driving at the time of an accident, Law Society council member Stephen Hung Wan-shun said. 'Car owners have to be very aware who they are handing the keys to,' Mr Hung said.

Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Holdings, added: 'Everyone should know more about drink-driving. You are risking your own life and, more importantly, other innocent lives in the car you would crash into.'

In the next two months, the pamphlets will be available at bars in Lan Kwai Fong, police stations, driving schools, petrol stations and the Transport Department. They will also be placed on parked cars in Jockey Club premises.

Sleeping does not always lower the body's alcohol level to a safe level. A person who has consumed 10 standard drinks - equivalent to a litre of wine - will still be over the legal limit after seven hours of sleep.

Consuming two standard drinks may put a person slightly under the legal limit, but the risk of a crash is double that of alcohol-free drivers, the pamphlet warns.

Drinking beverages with an alcohol content of between 15 and 20 per cent was the easiest way to get drunk, Medical Association vice-chairman Chow Pak-chin said. 'Strong alcoholic drinks hurt the stomach and are assimilated at a slower rate. But drinks of medium concentration taste better and people tend to drink over the limit.'

Former Medical Association chairman Choi Kin said the government's decision to abolish the wine tax was a mistake. 'It sends out the wrong message that drinking alcohol is OK. In fact, there is no scientific proof that alcohol is good for the body,' Dr Choi said.

Since February, police have had the power to stop drivers and conduct random breath tests, but Mr Zeman said the policy had not affected business at Lan Kwai Fong restaurants and bars. 'More people are aware of the consequences of drink-driving, and some bars even offered to take customers home,' he said.

A taxi driver and his five passengers were killed when their car collided with a truck in Lok Ma Chau just before Lunar New Year. The truck driver had been drinking. Dr Chow said the association could do more to prevent such tragedies, including taking part in the pamphlet push.