JOHOR BARU, Oct 16 — The Road Transport Act (Amendment) Bill 2020 pertaining to intoxicated and dangerous driving has been given the royal assent and will be made law by next week, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said today.

He said the royal assent was obtained yesterday, adding that the Transport Ministry will gazette the Bill next week, which means the revised penalties can then be enforced.

The Ayer Hitam MP noted public unhappiness with the outcome of a recent court case involving a driver who was sentenced to only six years imprisonment and fined RM8,000 by the Magistrate’s Court for a fatal road crash that claimed the lives of a naval officer in Johor Baru recently.

“I wish to stress that both sections concern different situations in which the offences under Section 45 do not involve death or injury.

“In a case whereby death or injury is caused by someone who drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Section 44 will be utilised and the prosecuting party will decide on the appropriate charge based on the facts of the respective case,” Wee wrote on his Facebook page.

He was speaking about Sections 41 and 44 of the Road Transport Act 1987 that was used in charging 23-year-old driver Nur Fatin Nazrah Suhaimi.

He said the incident once again highlights the need for drastic changes to the traffic laws.

Wee said there were many who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the sentence that has been meted out to the offender.

He also pointed out that there were others who had been giving confusing statements, saying that the penalties for being in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs under Section 45 of the RTA 1987 which provides for a fine of not less than RM1,000 and not more than RM5,000, and also liable to jail of not more than two years after amendments, is far less severe that the penalties for reckless driving under Section 41 of the same Act.

He explained that the amendments to the Road Transport Act (RTA) 1987 to introduce heavier penalties had to go through a process.

“The Road Transport Bill amendments were passed by the Dewan Rakyat on August 26 and the Dewan Negara on September 22.

“According to law, Royal Assent must be obtained within 30 days pursuant to Article 66 of the Federal Constitution, in order for the Transport Ministry to gazette and the Bill to become part of the law,” said Wee.

Under the revised law, those convicted of causing death while driving under the influence will be jailed between 10 and 15 years, and fined between RM50,000 and RM100,000.

The minimum fine for first-time offenders will be raised from RM5,000 to RM20,000, with the maximum fine raised from RM20,000 to RM50,000.

First-time offenders will face a minimum of five years in jail, compared with two years currently. The maximum jail term remains at 10 years.

For subsequent convictions, offenders will be fined between RM20,000 and RM100,000, compared with the current fine of RM5,000 to RM50,000. Imprisonment for subsequent offenders will also be increased to between 10 and 15 years.

First-time offenders will not be allowed to hold a driving licence for a maximum of five years. For subsequent offences, the penalty will be increased to 10 years.