Stiffer penalties for those who drive recklessly or drunk
Repeat offenders who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs could soon face additional penalties, including a lifetime ban from driving, double the jail time and stiffer fines.
Under proposed changes to the Road Traffic Act (RTA), stiffer penalties are also in the offing for dangerous and careless driving offences.
The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced in Parliament yesterday, seeks to tighten penalties, which will include minimum mandatory sentences for dangerous driving causing death and grievous hurt, and additional penalties for offenders who do so while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
As part of the initiative, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will introduce two classes of irresponsible driving offences - dangerous driving and careless driving - in the RTA, which correspond broadly to rash and negligent acts in the Penal Code.
These offences will be further categorised into four tiers based on harm caused – death, grievous hurt, hurt and where no hurt was inflicted.
To determine whether an act comes under dangerous or careless driving, the authorities will consider the manner of driving and whether it is inherently dangerous, and whether the driver had the duty to take extra care in situations such as approaching a pedestrian or zebra crossing.
The maximum penalties and minimum mandatory sentences for repeat offenders will also be higher than those for first-time offenders.
If offenders were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will face add-on penalties of one to two more years in jail, and at least two more years of disqualification from driving for the first offence.
MHA also plans to keep irresponsible drivers off the roads for a longer period, and in a more timely manner by expanding the range of offences where minimum disqualification periods and immediate suspension of the offender's licence will be imposed.
The suspension will prevent irresponsible motorists from driving until the courts have decided on their case.
MHA will also increase the penalties for driving without a licence, or while under disqualification or suspension.
The ministry stressed that in assessing liability for an accident, Traffic Police (TP) will not take action against a motorist who had been driving safely. "In addition, if the victim had engaged in risk-taking behaviour and violated traffic rules, TP will take the necessary enforcement action against him."
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now