Drunk drivers face 5 years without licence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 April, 2011, 12:00am


Drunk drivers could face harsher punishments, including loss of their driving licence for at least five years, according to a draft amendment to the Road Traffic Safety Law being discussed by the national legislature.

Members of the public and many lawyers have long complained that punishment of drunk drivers on the mainland is too light.

Under the existing law, drunk drivers can only be stripped of their licences for up to six months. The draft amendment says that once a drunk driver's licence is revoked, they will not be allowed to apply for another one for least five years.

Fines for drunk drivers will also be increased, from at least 200 yuan (HK$238) to at least 1,000 yuan, and repeat drink-drivers could also lose their licences for five years.

The mainland distinguishes between drink-driving and drunk-driving. Drivers with a blood-alcohol content of between 20 micrograms and 80 micrograms per 100 millilitres of blood are regarded as drink-drivers. Those above 80 micrograms are classified as drunk drivers and subject to criminal prosecution.

It is the second move by public security authorities in less than two months to tighten control of a drink-driving problem that has triggered a public outcry in recent years.

Deputy Public Security Minister Yang Huanning said the draft amendment, submitted to the National People's Congress Standing Committee yesterday morning, was drawn up in the light of amendments to the Criminal Code, approved in late February, that for the first time listed drunk driving as a crime, the China News Service reported.

Mainland police have launched various special campaigns to curb drink-driving since late 2009, and have detained or punished large numbers of drunk drivers.

Ministry statistics show that as a result of the intensified campaign, police handled more than 631,000 drink-driving cases last year, more than double the 310,000 cases handled in 2009. The number of drunk drivers also more than doubled, to 87,000, up from 42,000 in 2009.

Some lawyers said the new law might deter some drivers accustomed to drinking before driving, but it would be hard for the law to completely cure them of their bad habits.

'Chinese people have a bad tradition of drinking alcohol,' said Chen Dailong, a lawyer based in Fuzhou. 'In many places if you are not drunk, the hosts will say you are not a good friend.'

Zhu Lieyu, a Guangzhou-based lawyer, agreed, adding that many drunk drivers who had killed innocent pedestrians were only jailed for three years in the past.

'I totally agree that drunk driving should be considered a crime that severely harms public security, and drunk drivers should be given harsher punishments,' he said.

Two tiers

Drunk drivers, as opposed to drink-drivers, have this many micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or more: 80