SINGAPORE - The Traffic Police (TP) plan to stop issuing physical driving licences unless requested by motorists in its push towards digitalisation, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling on Monday (July 8).
As such, the Road Traffic Act will be amended so that motorists will no longer be required to surrender their physical licences if they do not have one, she added.
"Today, TP no longer rely on physical licences to ascertain an individual's driving qualifications. TP can access this information backend, using an individual's NRIC and date of birth," said Ms Sun, who was speaking in Parliament during the second reading of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill.
Other changes proposed in the Bill, which were previously announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, include making clear in the law that a motorist's licence will be suspended or revoked four weeks from the date of notice, even if the motorist's appeal against it is still being processed.
This is because currently, some errant motorists delay the suspension or revocation of their licences by misusing the appeals mechanism, said Ms Sun.
"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," she said.
"But we need to remember, these are irresponsible drivers who have already been picked up for multiple offences leading to a suspension or revocation. To allow them to continue driving while they drag out the appeal process, is to put other motorists at risk," she added.
She said where possible, the police will process and respond within two weeks of receiving an appeal.
In addition, the Bill proposes that the licence suspension period be lengthened to up to five years from the current three-year period.
This will allow TP to suspend serial offenders for a longer period of time, said Ms Sun, who added that subsidiary legislation to the Road Traffic Act will stipulate the length of suspension based on the number of previous suspensions.
For example, motorists who have been suspended six or more times will have their licence suspended for five years.
Last year, there were seven motorists who had six or more suspensions, said Ms Sun.
In addition, the Bill proposes that motorists who have one of their probationary licences revoked have the other licences revoked at the same time.
Other proposed amendments include allowing the courts to consider past road traffic offences as an aggravating factor when sentencing a convicted person for road traffic offences, as well as requiring motorists to stop their vehicle to render assistance to animals involved in accidents.
Motorcyclists and pillion riders who do not wear proper protective helmets will also face higher penalties - up to three months' jail and a maximum fine of $1,000, up from the current $200 fine.