CHINA> Regional
Harsher penalties after teen's fatality
By Wang Jingqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-07 07:19

A more thorough crackdown will be waged against illegal drivers, according to the Hangzhou police, after the second pedestrian death in three months has sparked public criticism of road safety.

The degree of punishment will increase as part of the police's new "zero tolerance" stance.

For motorists who drive after drinking, the police will withdraw his or her driver's licenses for three months; the prior penalty was a fine.

But anyone driving under the influence will be stripped of the license for six months; the previous penalty was three months. Drivers who commit a crime while driving drunk face a maximum sentence of seven years.

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Ma Fangfang, a 16-year-old waitress from Linhai of Zhejiang province, was struck and killed at 9:26 pm on Tuesday by a drunken driver in a Porsche Cayenne SUV. She died an hour later at the hospital.

The driver, Wei Zhigang, is a 29-year-old marketing manager at Hangzhou Tianchang Communication Equipment Company. The car involved in the incident belongs to his father, the chairman of the company, according to police.

Wei's alcohol content was 360 milligrams per 100 milliliters, more than four times the legal limit for drunken driving, which is 80 milligrams.

In a sad twist of fate, the teen girl was killed in a street crossing painted with a heart, a reminder of caution to drivers. Eight crossings in Hangzhou are adorned with the heart after a 25-year-old man was mowed down and killed by a drag racer named Hu Bin on May 7.

Wei is now in criminal detention. Hangzhou police promised to investigate the case.

"They should severely punish such drivers long before," said a Hangzhou citizen surnamed Wang, who said she was almost struck by a car days ago while crossing the road. "The light legal punishment from traffic accidents has become so frequent nowadays."

Meanwhile another drunken driver Zhang Xijun hit 10 people on Wednesday afternoon in Jixi, Heilongjiang province. Two have died and the eight other victims are in the hospital in stable condition.

Officer Zhang Liwen, of Nanshan police station in Jixi, witnessed the accident. He said Zhang was driving a Land Rover SUV and struck the feet of two girls. The girls and other pedestrians stopped Zhang.

The girls' parents arrived later and began arguing with the driver. The officer asked the group to come with him.

"But suddenly the driver started the vehicle and rushed back to a food booth," the officer said. One person died immediately, another died later in the hospital.