SINGAPORE: The authorities are considering stiffer penalties for drink-driving offenders amid an increase in accidents endangering the lives of road users.
This may include heftier fines, longer driving disqualification periods and lengthier jail terms.
Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development, said this on Friday (Dec 21) at the launch of an anti-drink driving campaign.
In the first nine months of this year, on average, one person died each month from accidents related to drink driving, Ms Sun said.
"All in, we saw over 120 accidents related to drink-driving, which is a 20 per cent increase from the first nine months of the previous year, and more than 1,500 individuals apprehended," she added.
"Most accidents happened as drink drivers ran red lights and exceeded speed limits. This has to stop."
Ms Xueling highlighted cases where drink driving related accidents had claimed lives, including one which involved an elderly lady who was collecting discarded cardboard along Collyer Quay.
There were also instances where the accidents claimed the lives of the motorists themselves. Two motorcyclists, in separate occasions earlier this year, were intoxicated when they lost control of their bikes and died, Ms Sun said.
However, the number of offenders arrested from January to September have reduced by about 2.5 per cent as compared to the same period last year, she said.
Public education efforts, including those by the Traffic Police and the Singapore Road Safety Council, have contributed to bringing the drink-driving situation "under control", she said.
Public education will be backed by "strong enforcement and tough penalties", she said.
"As I have said, we are considering stiffer penalties – higher fines, longer disqualification periods and lengthier jail terms. This will further strengthen the deterrent effect of our laws," she said.
Currently, a driver who is caught drink driving but did not get into an accident may be disqualified from driving for a year, fined up to S$10,000 and jailed for up to a year.
If the driver gets into an accident, there will be aggravated penalties, especially if he has harmed another person. This includes steeper fines, disqualification for 20 years or more and longer jail-terms of up to five years.