Jail, fine for drunk driver in crash that killed 2 friends

Friends of Ms Lo at the site of the fatal car crash in Tampines. She and Ms Phoe were flung out of the rear seat of the car and killed when the vehicle skidded and slammed into a tree.
Friends of Ms Lo at the site of the fatal car crash in Tampines. She and Ms Phoe were flung out of the rear seat of the car and killed when the vehicle skidded and slammed into a tree. ST FILE PHOTO
Tang's blood alcohol level was at least 139mg/100ml, exceeding the legal limit of 80mg/100ml. He was also driving recklessly, the court heard.
Tang's blood alcohol level was at least 139mg/100ml, exceeding the legal limit of 80mg/100ml. He was also driving recklessly, the court heard. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

He also gets 15-year driving ban for dangerous act that killed two

He had drunk too much after a night out at two clubs but drove his friends home anyway.

Tang Zi Liang, then a Republic Polytechnic student, had obtained his driving licence just six months earlier and was driving recklessly despite repeated requests from his passengers to slow down.

At around 6.20am on March 13 2014, he was speeding along Tampines Road at 120 to 140kmh when he lost control of his Toyota car. It hit a tree and his two rear passengers, both in their teens, were flung out and killed. Tang and his front seat passenger were hurt.

Yesterday, Tang, 22, was given 2 1/2 years' jail and banned from driving for 15 years for dangerous driving causing death and hurt, as well as drink driving. He was also fined $800 for not making sure his rear seat passenger, Michelle Phoe Min Yi, 18, wore her seat belt. A similar charge was also considered.

The court heard that Tang was working part time as a club promoter when he invited Ms Phoe and Ms Phoebe Lo Wei Ling, 19, to a club at Clarke Quay on March 12. At about 2am, he decided to go with the two girls, a friend known as Sky and Ms Isabella Tay Mei Na, then 18, to another club.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tan Wee Hao said shortly before 6.18am, Tang was driving at 120kmh to 140kmh along Tampines Road. "The accused also fell asleep a few times while driving and he had to be woken up by his passengers," said the DPP.

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Tang lost control of the car while navigating a slight bend in the road. The car veered across to the grass verge on the opposite side of the road. Its right side slammed into a tree. The impact caused the car to spin, flinging Ms Lo and Ms Phoe out of the rear seat.

Tang had lung injuries and neck bruises and was warded. Ms Tay had multiple bruises and was given three days of medical leave.

Tang's blood alcohol level was at least 139mg/100ml, which exceeded the legal limit of 80mg/100ml.

DPP Tan said a stiff sentence was clearly warranted given the aggravating factors and loss of two lives.

He told Principal District Judge Ong Hian Sun that Tang drove in a manner that was dangerous in many ways. He drank and drove, and ignored the repeated warnings of his passengers. Drink driving was in itself aggravating, he said.

Tang's lawyer Anil Singh said he would have to bear the lifelong guilt of having played a significant role in the death of two friends. He said Tang, then 20, had sleepless nights and recurring nightmares of the incident. He also sought psychiatric help and had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tang could have been jailed up to five years for dangerous driving causing death. He could have been fined up to $3,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months for causing hurt through dangerous driving.

For drink driving, he could have been fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to six months with at least a 12-month driving ban.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Jail, fine for drunk driver in fatal crash'. Print Edition | Subscribe