Transport minister: Cabinet has approved harsher penalties for drunk drivers

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong speaks during a press conference at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 15, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong speaks during a press conference at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 15, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The Cabinet has given its approval in principle to amend Sections 41 to 45 of the Road Transport Act, allowing for harsher penalties against those found to be driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, said Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong today.

In his reply during Question Time, the transport minister added that the Attorney General’s Chambers has gone through the draft Bill that will be presented for the Cabinet’s final approval on July 17 prior to its tabling a week later.

“Under Section 44, currently the maximum jail time for is 10 years. The amendment will see first-time offenders facing 15 years imprisonment for the first offence and 20 years for the subsequent offence.

“Currently, the maximum fine for those found guilty is RM20,000. So, for example, the amendment might see it increase this to RM100,000 for the first offence and RM150,000 for the following offence. We will also suspend their drivers' licence for 20 years, from 10 years (now),” said Wee.

Section 44 covers those found guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicants such as liquor and drugs.

The minister stressed that those convicted of causing death through drunk driving would face even stiffer penalties including possible mandatory imprisonment, but said he will only elaborate once the amendments were tabled.

He also disclosed that Putrajaya has decided to adopt the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) benchmark for the permissible alcohol content in an individual’s system.

“To give you an idea, right now we are very lenient when compared to WHO standards. We allow 35 micrograms per 100 ml of breath. Based on WHO’s standards, we will reduce it to 22 micrograms per 100 ml of breath.

“Second, our current blood alcohol content (BAC) stands at 80 milligrams (mg) per 100 ml of blood. We will reduce it to 50 mg per 100 ml of blood. Third, is alcohol content in urine. Currently, it stands at 107 mg per 100 ml of urine, we have cut it down to 67 mg per 100 ml of urine,” said Wee.

His predecessor Anthony Loke (PH-Seremban) then asked if Wee would follow through with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration’s plan to empower Road Transport Department (JPJ) officers to enforce the law against intoxicated driving and reckless driving.

Wee told the Lower House that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration was open to continuing any good policies from the PH administration and would grant JPJ officers such enforcement powers.

He said his ministry also planned to purchase more Evidential Breathalyzer Analyser as there were only 55 units available nationwide.

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