Stiffer penalties for errant motorists from Nov 1

In a photo taken on Oct 23, a Traffic Police officer uses a lasercam to monitor speeds on the SLE during a covert enforcement ops against errant drivers.
In a photo taken on Oct 23, a Traffic Police officer uses a lasercam to monitor speeds on the SLE during a covert enforcement ops against errant drivers.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Motorists who drive dangerously will face harsher penalties from next month under changes made to the Road Traffic Act in July.

Penalties that impose heavier jail terms and fines kick in on Friday. However, offences that can lead to a motorist's licence being suspended or revoked take effect in the second half of next year, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last Friday.

The changes will also mean that the duration of a sentence will depend on the extent of harm caused by an errant motorist.

Harm can be categorised on a descending scale, from death to grievous hurt, hurt and endangering life.

Repeat offenders who drive dangerously and cause death will face a maximum of 15 years in jail, compared with the current penalty of up to five years' jail.

A first-time or repeat offender can be suspended from driving immediately, forfeit his vehicle and be disqualified from driving for 10 years, under the amended Act.

It classifies irresponsible driving into two offences: reckless or dangerous driving and careless driving, which involves driving without reasonable consideration.

Dangerous driving involves motorists driving even though they should have known that they were not in the right condition to do so, while careless driving penalises motorists for not exercising caution when the road situation demanded it.

The MHA said the increase in the range of offences that entail minimum disqualification periods, immediate suspension and vehicle forfeiture means irresponsible motorists will be kept off the roads for longer periods of time and in a more timely manner.

 
 

Any driver who commits either offence under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be liable for additional penalties, which will run consecutively.

Motorists who show extremely poor driving behaviour, such as drink driving, driving against the flow of traffic, swerving across lanes at high speed or speeding through pedestrian crossings without the right of way, face heavier jail terms and fines.

The MHA said the increase in the range of offences that entail minimum disqualification periods, immediate suspension and vehicle forfeiture means irresponsible motorists will be kept off the roads for longer periods of time and in a more timely manner.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2019, with the headline 'Stiffer penalties for errant motorists from Nov 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe