Ban repeat drink-drivers for life, says lawmaker

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 2010, 12:00am

Repeat drink-drivers could lose their licence for five years under a government bill to be tabled for a final vote on Wednesday, but one lawmaker wants a much tougher penalty - a life ban.

Andrew Cheng Kar-foo is to move an amendment to the Road Traffic Ordinance in Wednesday's Legislative Council meeting seeking a life ban for repeat drink-driving offenders and people convicted of repeat offences of dangerous driving causing death.

His harsher penalties compare with the government's 'three-step' proposal to curb drink-driving, which is to resume its second reading in Legco.

The government is to classify the blood alcohol concentration of drivers tested at roadside into three classes, and impose licence suspensions ranging from six months to five years, depending on the number and seriousness of the violations. A repeat drink-driver with a blood alcohol concentration at the highest level of class three would face a five-year licence suspension.

Cheng says his tougher penalty is appropriate as there has to be a 'necessary deterrent for dangerous drivers'.

'The length of licence suspension is definitely a consideration for drivers before they attempt to drive after drinking,' he said. 'We hope this can tackle the gambling mentality of the drunk drivers, who think they can escape from accidents every time.'

But the independent lawmaker doubted his amendment would get through.

'I have raised the issue in regular pan-democrat meetings, but some legislators thought the concept of life-long licence suspension was too harsh,' he said. Under Legco's split voting system, a member-raised amendment has to secure majority support in both the functional and geographical constituencies to pass.

Separately, a 49-year-old minibus driver was arrested for drink-driving after he and six passengers were injured when a red-top minibus crashed into a barrier and toppled over in Prince Edward Road East near King Tai Street in Wong Tai Sin yesterday.

The minibus was travelling from Sai Kung to Mong Kok when the accident occurred. The front wheels of the minibus were torn off by the force of the collision.

The driver, who suffered a neck injury, failed a breathalyser test. The two men and four women passengers, aged 20 to 52, suffered limb or facial injuries and were sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Man Kin-hung, Kowloon East senior inspector traffic, said police found the bus tyres were worn. The minibus was taken away for inspection. 'We will investigate the driving attitude of the driver and the mechanical state of the minibus,' Man said.

According to the police, 1,036 drink-drivers were arrested in the past 11 months, up 11 per cent from a year earlier.