Drink driving: Ban and fine for ex-MP

Drink driving: Ban and fine for ex-MP

SINGAPORE - Former minister of state Chan Soo Sen said it was raising a toast at a charity event that led to him being fined $2,000 and banned from driving for a year on Thursday.

After admitting drink driving, the 56-year-old said he had made the "careless" mistake of not getting someone to drive him home from the event where he had been drinking red wine with its organisers.

A father of two, Chan was a People's Action Party (PAP) MP from 1996 to 2011 and had been a minister of state three times.

The traffic court heard that he had been travelling along Cantonment Road towards Outram Road when he was stopped at a police road block just before midnight on July 13.

An officer noticed that he "smelt strongly of alcohol" and he admitted to having had drinks earlier. He failed a handheld breathalyser test and was arrested.

At the Traffic Police headquarters in Ubi Avenue 3, a Breath Evidential Analyser test indicated 50mg of alcohol in every 100ml of his breath - in excess of the 35mg legal limit.

Chan looked grim as Deputy Public Prosecutor Allison Phua read out the facts of the case.

The ex-Joo Chiat MP, who retired in 2011, did not have a lawyer and tendered a written mitigation plea that he had prepared.

He told reporters after the hearing that its contents included the circumstances that led to him committing the offence.

Chan said he was unable to flag down a taxi to take him from his Pasir Panjang home to the charity event he had been invited to that evening and so he resorted to driving himself.

He declined to elaborate on the event as he felt that the details were not relevant to the case.

However, he said it had been organised by his "very strong supporters" and that he felt obliged to attend.

As the event was a huge success, the organisers toasted him and he drank some red wine - then he made the mistake of failing to hire a driver to take him home.

"It was all due to my carelessness," he admitted.

Chan also said that his wife had been warded in Singapore General Hospital a few days earlier and that doctors were still diagnosing her illness.

He added that this was the first time he had appeared in court for a traffic offence after more than 30 years of driving.

Chan was a Minister of State for Education, Trade and Industry, in the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Community Development and Sports.

He said he is now working as a part-time business consultant.

Anyone convicted of drink driving can be fined between $1,000 and $5,000 or jailed for up to six months.

Offenders can also be disqualified from driving all vehicles for a minimum period of a year.

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