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Officials: Driving on drugs should be crime

By Zhang Yi (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-24 08:30

Driving under the influence of narcotics should be punishable under the Criminal Law, the China National Narcotics Control Commission said in a recent statement.

It is urgent to write statutes on the issue, the statement said, adding that those who drive under the influence of illicit drugs should be given jail sentences regardless of whether they have caused a traffic accident or not.

Traffic accidents involving driving under the influence of narcotics have surged in recent years.

The Ministry of Public Security had no precise numbers. According to what it said was "incomplete" data, 85 traffic accidents in 2009 involved drivers using illegal drugs. In 2013, the number of those crashes rose to more than 800, more than doubling 2012.

It is not currently a criminal offense in China to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of illegal drugs, so long as an accident does not occur. Drivers who are found to have taken illegal drugs but who didn't crash may have their licenses suspended or revoked. The most severe punishment with no traffic accident is 15 days of detention for a noncriminal violation of public security.

The call from legal experts to make driving under the influence of narcotics a crime began in 2010.

Hong Daode, a professor of criminal law at China University of Political Science and Law, said driving under the influence of drugs is comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol, which is currently a crime.

Zang Tiewei, deputy head of the criminal law division of the Legal Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, said it hasn't been included in the Criminal Law because legislators are discussing which narcotics should be included, as well as the circumstances defining a criminal offense.

He said technology to test drivers is not ready.

"The techniques of a quick test on a few types of drugs are available, but there are more than 200 types of controlled narcotics that cannot be detected immediately," he said.

 

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