China's new drunk driving rule nets audacious violators

08:57, May 03, 2011      

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Two traffic police officers in Xingtai, Hebei province, help a man suspected of drunk driving take a blood test on Sunday. (Yue Lizhong / for China Daily)

Many drunk drivers across the country have been charged with dangerous driving and will soon face criminal punishment under China's newly amended Road Traffic Safety Law, which took effect on Sunday.

The amendment makes those found to have driven while intoxicated subject to harsher punishments.

In the past, drunk drivers had been subject to a much lighter penalty. The worst that could happen is that their licenses would be revoked for six months. Only in cases in which their misconduct resulted in deaths would they be held criminally accountable.

According to Chinese law, drivers are considered drunk if they have 80 milligrams of alcohol or more for each 100 milliliters of blood.

The new amendment will revoke the licenses of those caught driving drunk and make such drivers wait five years before they may apply for a new license.

Anyone whose drunk driving leads to a death or the injury of at least two persons will be banned from driving for life.

Drivers found to have committed severe violations will go to prison.

In Beijing on Sunday morning, Li Junjie, a 25-year-old Mercedes-Benz driver from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, became the first drunk driver caught after the new rules had taken effect, according to police reports.

He was stopped in a checkpoint in Beijing and was made to take an alcohol test. Forty-four minutes after the new amendment had gone into effect on Sunday, Li was charged with dangerous driving.

Blood tests revealed the alcohol content in his system was 159.6 milligrams for every 100 milliliters blood.

"I didn't expect it to be so strict in Beijing," Li told a police officer. "I didn't know drunk drivers would be held criminally responsible under the new law."

In Chongqing municipality, the first person caught drunk driving was a construction contractor, surnamed Liao. He was stopped by police at a checkpoint at Xiyong avenue in Shapingba district as he was driving his drunk friend home.

A test showed his system contained 129.9 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood. Liao was accused of dangerous driving and was detained by police on Sunday morning.

By 3 am the same morning, police had caught 16 drunk drivers in Chongqing, local traffic authority said.

The new rule has been widely applauded in Shanghai. In a survey conducted by, a news portal based in Shanghai, more than 90 percent of 656 respondents said they support harsher punishments for drunk driving.

In Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, 550 traffic police officers were dispatched to conduct special checks at 40 entertainment sites and important road junctions from 1 am to 6 am on Sunday.

"Drunk driving is one of the biggest causes of traffic accidents," Li Guifang, deputy head of the criminal defense committee under the All-China Lawyers Association, told China Daily.

"Harsher punishments can suppress the occurrence of traffic accidents.

"But it's not appropriate to inflict criminal punishment on all drunk drivers, and the authorities should make it clear which violations will be subject to criminal punishment."
Source: China Daily
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