Tough policy for drug-driving on the cards

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 June, 2010, 12:00am

Law enforcers may adopt a 'zero-tolerance' approach to drug-driving and charge drivers found to have abused dangerous drugs regardless of whether their driving was impaired.

This is among proposals being studied by a working group on the growing problem, which will be the subject of a public consultation around the middle of the year, legislators heard yesterday.

In a written reply to a question, transport secretary Eva Cheng said the working group planned to deal with dangerous drugs and other drugs separately.

She said the group would study the feasibility of adopting a 'zero-tolerance' approach to several specified drugs that were commonly abused.

'In other words, a driver will commit an offence if he is proven to have taken these specified dangerous drugs, no matter whether his control of the vehicle has obviously been affected,' Cheng said.

For other drugs, the working group will examine whether the existing legislation can be revamped.

Currently, police have difficulty combating drug-driving, as the Road Traffic Ordinance does not give them the power to take body fluids from a suspect for testing.

The working group will assess the feasibility of introducing preliminary tests to help frontline police officers determine whether a driver is driving under the influence of drugs, to assess whether the driver should provide blood or other bodily fluids for further analysis.

The group is also studying overseas experience. In Britain, law enforcement officers test the reactions of suspected drug-drivers. In Australia, suspects are required to provide samples, such as saliva, for testing.

Lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo yesterday suggested a quicker approach to deter drug-driving. He will initiate an amendment on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill at today's Legco bills committee meeting, suggesting the 149 listed dangerous drugs should be scheduled in this law. He also suggests banning drug-drivers permanently from driving and imposing a maximum penalty of five years' jail.

Under the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, which plans to toughen penalties for drink-drivers under a three-tier scheme, repeat offenders will be banned from driving for five years.

A 22-year-old truck driver was arrested at about 5am yesterday on suspicion of driving under the influence of a drug and possession of drugs after his vehicle was seen swerving in Lung Cheung Road near Tin Ma Court, Wong Tai Sin.

Police said the driver had asked the arresting officers to give him time to finish sniffing his ketamine before taking him away.

He was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for an examination before being released on HK$5,000 bail.

Meanwhile, the Narcotics Division said the new street-drug 'K2', which was found for the first time in the city this week, was not covered by Hong Kong law. A spokeswoman said the chief executive may amend the list of dangerous drugs.