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Driving While Under The Influence Of Intoxicating Liquor

Last November, a vehicle reportedly ploughed into a table at the open air area of the hawker centre in Serdang. After the initial collision, the driver drove off before hitting three other vehicles there. A woman in her 50s died at the scene while at least three others suffered injuries. Earlier in June, a 17-year-old youth died while two of his friends were injured when their motorcycles were mowed down by a car driver. Drivers in both incidents were later charged at court for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Drinking until the wee hours in the morning with friends is fun but driving back home in a drunken state is just asking for trouble. Worse, it can cause harm to an innocent person too. According to a study done by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, about 23.3% of drivers in fatal accidents were tested positive for alcohol and drunk drivers are 13 times more likely to cause an accident compared to a sober one.

During festive seasons, this number will usually increase as people tend to celebrate with gusto, and when there is the excitement of partying late into the night, many will consume alcohol. Alcohol affects you in a way that changes your judgement, depth perception as well as vital motor skills required to drive safely. It’s easy to think you are driving normally when truly you are not.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is an offence under the Road Transport Act 1987, and in the event of death or injury to others, the driver can be charged under Section 44 (1).

Section 44(1)

 “(1) Any person who, when driving a motor vehicle on a road or other public place-

(a) is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug, to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle; or

(b) has so much alcohol in his body that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit,

and causes the death of or injury to any person shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than three years and not more than ten years and to a fine of not less than eight thousand ringgit and not more than twenty thousand ringgit.”

While many authorities have been running educational campaigns against drunk-driving for years now, there remain a sizeable number of drunk drivers on the roads and this should not be taken lightly. The solution to this problem does not just rest in the hands of law enforcement to find these violators and prosecute them but within each and every person to make the conscious choice not to drink and drive.

Based on a 2017 study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol is involved in about 23.3% of Malaysia’s total road traffic deaths. The study also showed that alcohol was involved in a lower percentage of total road traffic deaths in Philippines (1.4%), China (3.8%), India (4.7%) and Japan (6.2). It appears that drunk driving seems to play a huge role in road mortality in Malaysia than it does in many Asia countries.

In a High Court case, Sundarshan Gopalkrishnan v Public Prosecutor [2015] 10 CLJ 831, the accused was sentenced to four years imprisonment and fined RM 10,000.00 for driving a car while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and causing death to a person. The court also ordered the suspension of the accused’s driving licence for five years. The court highlighted that driving a vehicle on the road while under the influence of intoxicating liquor is one of the serious mistakes. The sentences should be a lesson and reminder of the graveness of the offence committed.

Every road user, especially the one behind the wheel, has some level of responsibility when it comes to safety. When a person drives away after drinking, they are not only putting their lives at risk but they are risking the lives of all those they come across while driving. There is always a better option. Keep the roadways safe along with your loved ones and the loved ones of others by not drinking and driving.

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