Stiffer penalties for tipsy drivers

Stiffer penalties for tipsy drivers

A cabby whose stalled taxi was hit by a drunken driver's car on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) died after being bedridden for eight months last year.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee cited the case last evening in announcing a review to increase the penalties for drink driving.

He was speaking at the launch of the latest SGCarMart Anti-Drink Drive Campaign, organised in conjunction with the festive season by the Traffic Police (TP) and Singapore Road Safety Council at Zouk.

"In particular, we will seek to increase the penalties for offences that result in death or hurt to others, especially in cases where the drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or are repeat offenders," said Mr Lee.

"We will also press for more severe penalties for such cases."

Mr Lee highlighted that the number of arrests for drink driving had fallen this year. Up to September, the TP had arrested 1,540 motorists for drink driving, 13 per cent lower than the same period last year.

"While this drop is encouraging, drink driving still remains a concern," he said.

Mr Lee noted that there were still 103 drink driving-related accidents in the first three-quarters of the year, which resulted in three deaths and 153 injuries.

For the PIE accident, Raymond Chiang, 29, was jailed in October for four months, fined $4,000 and disqualified from driving for eight years for causing the death of Mr Sim Beng Guan, 59.

Mr Lee said the accident had devastated Mr Sim's family.

"When we think of the harm that has been caused to the victim and his family, and the irresponsible attitude of the driver, it is very clear that we need to take a tougher stance against such acts," Mr Lee said.

Mr Sim's son, software IT developer Sim Yin Chong, 29, told The New Paper: "My father lost his life because of drink driving.

For taking away someone's life, the penalty is very light. I hope it won't happen to anyone else."

Currently, first-time drink-driving offenders can be fined $1,000 to $5,000 and be disqualified from driving for up to 48 months.

Repeat offenders can face a fine of up to $30,000, up to three years' jail and up to six strokes of the cane.

Anyone who causes the death of another by driving a motor vehicle recklessly can be jailed for up to five years.

Mr Lee said the TP will continue public education programmes, enforce and deter such motorists through stiff penalties, and engage with stakeholders such as entertainment outlet operators.

Experts contacted by TNP welcomed the review.

Transport engineering consultant Gopinath Menon called drink driving "one of the most serious offences" that is unacceptable.

"You can kill yourself and others. The numbers have been brought down, but it is a good idea to send home the message that it is something we cannot tolerate," he said.

Road safety expert Gerard Pereira, agreeing with the need for more severe penalties, said there is no reason to drink and drive with the availability of alternative transport options such as taxis or private hire cars.

In his speech, Mr Lee also mentioned how entertainment outlets can help to combat drink driving.

He said: "Entertainment outlets have a role too, to remind customers not to drink and drive, and provide options such as overnight parking and valet services."

This article was first published on December 2, 2016.
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