Separate law for drug-driving needed, says union

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 November, 2010, 12:00am

A separate law to combat drug-driving is needed instead of stepping up the penalty for dangerous driving, union leaders urged yesterday.

They said professional drivers were always on the road and accidents happened, but most of the time they were unintentional.

'Drivers who insist on driving after taking drugs know that they have to bear the consequences. But it is unfair if they and drivers who get into traffic accidents unintentionally are punished the same way,' said Chung Kin-wah, vice-chairman of the Motor Transport Workers General Union.

To Sun-tong, the director of the union's branch for taxi drivers, said unlike drug-driving, 'dangerous driving' could be caused by bad road design or pedestrians.

'Professional drivers may feel like they are stepping on the brake with one foot, and stepping into jail with the other,' he said.

The union will meet legislative councillors in coming weeks, and will also co-ordinate with other unions to see if protest action is needed.

Under the government's proposal to combat drug-driving, the maximum penalty for dangerous driving in terms of fine, imprisonment and disqualification would each be increased by 50 per cent.

The fact that a driver took drugs before driving would be considered 'a circumstance of aggravation in all dangerous driving offences', according to a document presented to the Legislative Council in July.

Chung said although they supported zero tolerance for drug-driving, the government should introduce laws to specifically target the practice.

He said on the mainland, a driver would be charged with 'using dangerous methods to harm public safety' if he or she drove after drinking.

Commissioner for Transport Joseph Lai Yee-tak said the government was carrying out consultations and compiling statistics on drug-driving. It hoped to table the issue in the Legislative Council next year.