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Drunk driving declines due to harsh penalties

(China Daily)

09:44, November 02, 2011

BEIJING - The number of drunk driving accidents in China has fallen sharply since an amended Criminal Law that imposes harsher punishments on drunk drivers took effect on May 1.

In the past six months, police around China reported 26,617 cases of drunk driving, a 42.7 percent drop year-on-year, the traffic management bureau of the Ministry of Public Security said Tuesday.

During the same period, 467 people were killed in traffic accidents caused by drivers who had consumed alcohol, down by 27.3 percent. Among the victims, 410 deaths from drunk driving were reported with a drop of 18.7 percent, according to the bureau.

Sixty-five percent of drunk drivers were between the ages of 20 and 40, the bureau said.

"Although harsher penalties and a special focus on drunk driving by law enforcement authorities have created positive results, drunk driving remains a hard nut that will take a long time to crack," said an unnamed official with the bureau, adding that many drivers still drive drunk in the belief that they will be lucky enough to escape police checks.

The amended Criminal Law stipulates that all drunk driving incidents must be considered as criminal offenses, whereas the previous law imposed criminal penalties on drunk drivers only when they caused serious traffic accidents.

Vowing to continue the crackdown on drunk driving, the official said every case of drunk driving will be investigated as a possible crime regardless of the identities of the suspects involved, adding that those who are found to have broken the law will face charges.

By the end of October, police nationwide had completed investigations of 15,941 drunk driving cases and sent them to procuratorates for prosecution, with 7,094 cases already having gone through the courts, the bureau said.

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