China tightens crackdown on drunken driving

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-18 07:51
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Drunken drivers will soon be slapped with a harsher penalty to stem the deadly trend on the nation's roads.

China tightens crackdown on drunken driving
A driver receives an alcohol check in Shanghai on Dec 8. [China Daily] 

The regulation, revised by the Ministry of Public Security, was announced yesterday. Drivers found with a blood-alcohol content of more than 20 mg per 100 ml of blood will have 12 demerit points stripped from their record, an increase from the current rule that subtracts six points. Each driver's record begins with 12 points.

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When all 12 are struck from the record, a driver will have his or her license confiscated by police, be forced to study traffic laws for a week and take an examination in order to regain the license.

Previously, many drivers said they did not take the traffic offense seriously because driving under the influence only becomes a criminal offence when an injury or death is caused.

"Driving after drinking is quite usual," Beijinger Zhou Manjun in his late 20s said. "I felt I was sober enough to drive after a few cups of beer."

After the ministry's recent two-month "zero-tolerance" campaign against the traffic offense, many drivers such as Zhou avoided driving after drinking as much as possible.

"Now with the new regulation, I will not dare to drink and drive," he said.

The new regulation comes after a number of drunken driving accidents that killed and injured a number of people between June and August.

On June 30, real estate company boss Zhang Mingbao struck and killed five pedestrians, including a pregnant woman, in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. On Aug 4, a black Porsche Cayenne SUV mowed down waitress Ma Fangfang as she crossed a road in downtown Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

By August, a quarter of the 265,204 road accidents this year have involved motorists over the legal blood-alcohol limit, according to ministry statistics.

"(The new regulation) is aimed to make the offender receive punishment that matches the harm his offense could have done to the public," said Li Xiaodong, director of vehicle management department of traffic management bureau under the ministry.

Meanwhile, the revised regulation also loosened the requirement for the disabled to apply for driver's licenses.

People who lost legs, or some fingers, can now apply for a driver's license. Those with hearing problems but can hear after wearing hearing aids can also apply.

"It is good news, because with improved living conditions, many disabled people now want to drive their own car," said Shen Zhifei, deputy director general of China Disabled Persons' Federation.