Errant motorists to face longer prison terms and driving bans
Repeat offenders and those who cause accidents while under the influence will face add-on penalties
A driver who causes a fatal accident by driving dangerously could soon face up to eight years in prison instead of the current five years.
The tougher penalty is part of upcoming changes after amendments to the Road Traffic Act (RTA) were passed in Parliament yesterday.
The changes will include longer maximum jail terms and heftier fines for errant drivers, with additional penalties to be meted out to those driving under the influence.
Offences will be streamlined into two categories - dangerous driving and careless driving.
The authorities will consider the circumstances of the offence and the level of harm caused - death, grievous hurt, hurt and where no hurt was inflicted - when deciding on the penalties.
The maximum penalties and minimum mandatory sentences for repeat offenders will be higher than those for first-time offenders. For example, repeat offenders in cases of dangerous driving causing death can be jailed for four to 15 years, compared with two to eight years for first-time offenders.
Careless drivers who cause death can face up to three years in prison and a fine for the first offence and six years and a fine for the second.
Under current law, such drivers face a maximum of two years' jail.
First-time offenders of dangerous driving causing death who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol will face add-on penalties of one to two more years in jail, and at least two more years of disqualification from driving.
Repeat offenders will face an additional two to four more years in jail and five years to a lifetime of disqualification from driving.
The Ministry of Home Affairs will also introduce minimum disqualification periods for offences that cause death and grievous hurt.
Those convicted of dangerous driving causing death will be disqualified for at least 10 years with immediate suspension and forfeiture of vehicle.
Mrs Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Home Affairs, said in Parliament: "Our intention is for offenders driving under influence to face stiffer penalties, to signal the aggravated seriousness of their actions.
"We will also introduce additional levers to take irresponsible motorists off the roads more quickly and for longer."
One of these measures includes giving Traffic Police (TP) the discretion to impose immediate suspension for all dangerous driving offences, as well as careless driving offences that cause death or grievous hurt.
This will also help prevent abuse of the appeals system.
Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs, said: "Currently, some errant motorists delay the suspension or revocation of their licences by misusing the appeals mechanism.
"They file multiple unmerited appeals at different junctures and through different channels. By doing so, they drag out the process so that they can continue to drive in the interim."
Another measure is to lengthen the licence suspension period for serial offenders, which will now allow TP to suspend an individual's licence for up to five years from the current maximum of three years.
Motorcyclists and pillion riders who do not wear helmets will also face a jail term of up to three months and a fine of up to $1,000. The current penalty is a fine of up to $200.
Mrs Teo said of the amendments: "While the RTA has been updated regularly, the last comprehensive review was conducted more than 20 years ago, in 1996. The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2019 is therefore timely."
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