SINGAPORE - Seventy-one drivers were arrested on Wednesday night (Dec 20) in an islandwide anti-drink-driving operation that started from 4pm on Wednesday and ended on Thursday morning.
Through patrols and road blocks in the latest operation, conducted at more than five areas islandwide, including near public entertainment outlets and the heartland, the police had hoped to send a warning to those thinking of taking a sip before they hit the wheel, especially during the festive season.
Superintendent Ho Yenn Dar, Traffic Police's head of the Operations and Training Branch, said: "Through today's operations, we want to send out the message that the traffic police conduct checks not only at roadblocks, in the city and in the wee hours, but also in the heartland and at all times of the day.
"This is because many drivers have the misconception that checks are only conducted at certain areas and at certain times."
Such efforts appear to have paid off, as there were fewer drink-driving related accidents in the first nine months of the year.
The number of such accidents fell from 111 between January and September last year to 70 in the same period this year.
The number of deaths or injuries also declined from 165 in the first nine months of last year to 96 in the corresponding period this year.
This comes on the back of a longer-term decline in such drink-driving offences since 2014.
For instance, there were a total of 182 fatal and non-fatal accidents related to drink driving in 2014, compared with 138 cases in 2015, and 147 cases last year.
A total of 264 people died or were injured in these accidents in 2014. The number for 2015 was 179, and that for 2016 was 211.
The media was invited to observe the anti-drink-driving enforcement operations in Punggol and Clarke Quay. One driver was stopped but was let off after he passed a breathalyser test.
Supt Ho said that in addition to road-block checks, motorists could expect to be stopped for drink-driving checks by motorcycle patrols if they were observed to be incapable of controlling their vehicles.
Drink drivers, upon conviction, will lose their driving licences and be disqualified from driving for at least 12 months.
First-time offenders can be fined between $1,000 and $5,000, and can have their driving licences disqualified for 12 to 48 months, depending on their Breath Evidential Analyser test results.
Repeat offenders may be punished with a maximum fine of $30,000 and a mandatory jail term of up to three years. They may also receive up to six strokes of the cane if death or serious injury has occurred.
On Dec 8, a Mercedes-Benz driver was charged with drink driving when his car mounted a divider in Tanjong Pagar Road and hit four people.
Supt Ho said: "The Traffic Police will step up enforcement action against irresponsible drink drivers who put themselves and other road users at risk... Those who persist to drink drive will face the full consequences of the law."