Expect stiffer penalties as police put brakes on drink driving

Currently, anyone caught drink driving will be disqualified from driving for a year, and can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to a year.
Currently, anyone caught drink driving will be disqualified from driving for a year, and can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to a year.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Motorists who drink and drive may face stiffer penalties amid a rise in accidents related to drink driving.

"We are considering stiffer penalties - higher fines, longer disqualification periods and lengthier jail terms. This will further strengthen the deterrent effect of our laws," said Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development, on Friday (Dec 21).

Speaking to about 100 people at the launch of the Anti-Drink Drive Campaign 2018 at Zouk in Clarke Quay, Ms Sun also noted that there has been a rise in accidents related to drink driving.

From January to September this year, there were more than 120 accidents, a 20 per cent increase from the same period last year, she said.

Over 1,500 people have been arrested, with most accidents caused by drunk drivers running red lights and exceeding speed limits, she added.

Stiffer penalties are "necessary", she said, considering the harm caused to not just the victims but also their families.

Traffic Police commander, Senior Assistant Commissioner Gerald Lim, said: "Punishment could be enhanced if it causes death."

The authorities are still in the midst of reviewing the penalties. It is not something that can be implemented overnight, as there are several channels to clear, he added.

Currently, anyone caught drink-driving will be disqualified from driving for a year, and can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to a year.

If the driver gets into an accident, the penalties are heavier, especially if anyone is harmed, with steeper fines, disqualification for at least 20 years, and jail terms of up to five years.

One piece of good news is that from January to September this year, the number of drink-driving offenders arrested in enforcement operations, such as road blocks, has decreased 2.5 per cent compared to the same period last year, said Ms Sun.

SAC Lim saw the figure as a positive sign that deterrent measures are working.

"Our job is to make sure people understand, and to know 'better don't (drink drive), the police is out there watching'," he said.

This year's Anti-Drink Drive Campaign, organised by the Traffic Police and Singapore Road Safety Council, is part of outreach efforts during the festive season to remind motorists not to commit the offence.

The campaign's tagline is "Drink and Drive is a Deadly Mix", and campaign messages will be spread through posters, digital banners on phones and a new road safety video.

"Public education will remain the cornerstone of our efforts against drink driving, and will be backed by strong enforcement and tough penalties," said Ms Sun, who pasted the campaign stickers on her own car.