Malaysia approves stiffer penalties for reckless, drink driving

Law not meant to deprive people of right to drink alcohol: Minister

Head of Selangor Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department, Superintendent Azman Shariat (right), observing a breathalyser test around the Ampang area in Selangor last month. Malaysia's Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed on Wednes
Head of Selangor Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department, Superintendent Azman Shariat (right), observing a breathalyser test around the Ampang area in Selangor last month. Malaysia's Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed on Wednesday in the Dewan Rakyat with a simple voice vote.PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has announced stiffer penalties for motorists who cause death due to recklessness or while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020. The Bill was passed on Wednesday in the Dewan Rakyat with a simple voice vote.

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said the legislative amendments were done in a comprehensive manner to tackle the problem.

He emphasised that the law was not meant to deprive people of their right to consume alcohol.

"It doesn't matter to me if you want to drink all you want and even swim in a pool of alcohol, but it becomes my concern when you drive after doing so," Datuk Seri Wee said in his ministerial reply on the Bill on Wednesday.

The Bill proposed that those charged under Section 41 for dangerous or reckless driving causing death could face between five and 10 years' jail, as well as a fine of not less than RM20,000 (S$6,530) and not more than RM50,000.

Currently, those guilty of the offence face between two and 10 years of jail time and a fine of between RM5,000 and RM20,000.

Offenders will also have their driving licence suspended for five years if convicted, an increase of three years compared with two years previously.

The Bill proposed that those charged under Section 43 for careless and inconsiderate driving also face a fine of between RM5,000 and RM10,000, as well as a jail term of not more than 12 months for the first offence.

Another amendment states that anyone who drives a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, liquor or drugs to the extent of being incapable of having proper control over the vehicle, or has an alcohol content exceeding the limit, and causes a death, can be jailed for between 10 and 15 years, and fined between RM50,000 and RM100,000.

Those convicted under this section will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 10 years from the date of conviction.

Those who drive a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, liquor or drugs to the extent of being incapable of having proper control over the vehicle, or has an alcohol content exceeding the limit, and cause injury to anyone, will also be prosecuted. They shall be liable to a jail term of between seven and 10 years and a fine of between RM30,000 and RM50,000.

WHEN IT CONCERNS THE MINISTER

It doesn't matter to me if you want to drink all you want and even swim in a pool of alcohol, but it becomes my concern when you drive after doing so.

MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER WEE KA SIONG, in his ministerial reply on the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020, which was passed in the Dewan Rakyat.

The Bill also sought to amend Section 45G to lower the prescribed limit of alcohol content allowed in an individual to 22mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath; 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood; or 67mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine.

Currently, the prescribed limit of alcohol content allowed in an individual is 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath; 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood; or 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine.

Mr Wee said the government was using not only legislation to address the issue but also the three elements of education, engineering of road conditions, and enforcement.

"We cannot use only one of the elements or neglect all of them. When there is awareness and enforcement is done, then people will be more afraid to get behind the wheel after drinking," he said.

Mr Wee denied that the increase in penalties was aimed to boost government revenue, adding that the punishments were meant to deter reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

He said discussions were being held with e-hailing companies to display stickers on their vehicles to encourage those under the influence of alcohol to use their services instead of driving themselves.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysia approves stiffer penalties for reckless, drink driving'. Subscribe