Drug-driver's jail term extended by a year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 December, 2010, 12:00am

Drug-driving was on the rise and had to be 'nipped in the bud', a judge said yesterday as the Court of Appeal handed down an extra year in jail for a taxi driver who crashed twice in three weeks after taking ketamine.

The court increased Chan Hon-hoi's 18-month sentence to 30 months following an application by the secretary for justice.

Chan's disqualification from driving was also increased from two years to three and he must serve an additional 14-day sentence from another case.

Chan, 30, ran his taxi into a lamp post in January, then crashed another taxi into railings 18 days later. Several months earlier he had been sentenced to 14 days' jail, suspended for a year, for drug possession.

'Driving under the influence of drugs is a growing concern, not just in Hong Kong, but around the world,' Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen said yesterday in giving the court's ruling. 'There are indications that drug-driving is becoming more prevalent in a report from the Transport and Housing Bureau. Such offences must be nipped in the bud.'

Statistics provided to the court showed that from January to June there were 37 arrests for drug-driving and 17 prosecutions, compared to eight arrests and eight prosecutions in 2007.

Chan pleaded guilty in the District Court in May to two counts of driving under the influence of drugs and two of inhaling a dangerous drug.

He hit the lamp post on Beacon Hill, Kowloon Tong, on January 2. On January 20, while on hire from Hung Hom to a nearby hotel, he behaved erratically, stopping when a traffic light was green and moving off when it was red. One of the passengers decided to get out, but Chan drove off while she was paying. She managed to jump out before Chan crashed.

After the first incident, traces of white powder in Chan's nose were found to contain ketamine. After the second, he admitted taking ketamine the night before.

Seeking a review of the sentence, the secretary for justice argued that the term was not appropriate or commensurate with the gravity of the case. Chan had a record of more than 30 traffic offences and five previous criminal convictions.

The application was heard by Yeung, Madam Justice Maria Yuen Ka-ning and Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

Safety scourge

In the first six months of the year, there were 37 arrests for drug-driving, and the number of prosecutions was: 17