Gov't approves heavier penalties against drink-driving offenders – 15 years maximum jail and RM100,000 fine –

The proposed amendments to Sections 41 to 45 of the Road Transport Act 1987 have been tabled in parliament, and heavier penalties are set to be meted out to those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent of causing death, as Bernama reports.

The jail term for such offences has been increased to a maximum of 15 years, with a fine of between RM50,000 to RM100,000 for the first offence. For a subsequent offence, the jail sentence will be between 15 to 20 years and the maximum fine will further be increased to RM150,000. Under the present law, the maximum jail time is 10 years, and the maximum fine is RM20,000.

Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of not less than 10 years from the date of the conviction.

The increased fines and jail terms were included in the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020, which was tabled for first reading by transport minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong at the Dewan Rakyat today. Also incorporated into the amendment is a revision of the prescribed limits of alcohol as detected through breathalyser, urine and blood tests, as previously reported.

Currently, the levels adopted by the country stands at 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath, 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood or 107 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine. These will be lowered to 22 microgrammes of alcohol for every 100 ml of breath, 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood or 67 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine, in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

Wee said the amendments were aimed at addressing not just the issue of drink-driving, but also reckless and dangerous driving as well as driving under the influence of drugs, The Star reports.

He said those who fell asleep while behind the wheel could be charged under the law for reckless driving. “You are also liable and can be charged. If you cause any death, these will be the penalties for you, we are serious. If you cannot control your car, it means it is reckless driving,” he said to a question of whether the law is applicable to those who fell asleep while driving.

Wee added that punishments for offences related to basikal lajak (modified bicycles) and other micro-mobility vehicles will also be increased under the amended laws. He said that in the case of modified bicycles, those above 21 years old would be charged. “But if it involves minors, the parents or guardians who allow them to go out late at night will be fined,” he said.

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