KLANG: The Transport Ministry is studying the legal framework and practices of other countries in reviewing the Road Transport Act amid a rise in accidents related to drink-driving.
Its minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook, however, said these measures would be further studied to evaluate their effectiveness and practicality of having them implemented in Malaysia.
He was commenting on road safety experts who have suggested that Malaysia look at measures implemented by other countries in its review of the Act.
Among the proposed ideas are to identify drink-driving hotspots, set up a special court for drink-driving cases, and to offer financial compensation to next-of-kin of those killed by drunk drivers.
“All these (legal framework and measures taken by other nations) are being studied by us. But we have our existing (practices) and legal framework.
“As for some of these proposals, we have to look into their practicality on how and whether they can be (effectively) implemented in Malaysia. So we have to look at our existing legal framework and also study the practicality of it.
“It does not mean that everything implemented by other countries can also be implemented here. There are different circumstances, different conditions. We will look into it seriously,” he told reporters after attending the ECRL project public inspection site at the Port Klang Authority Headquarters, here, today.
Loke, however, stressed that recalcitrant drunk drivers could expect stiffer penalties under the reviewed law - Section 44.
The details of the punishment and other severe measures that will be taken against drink-driving offenders, he said, will be announced later once the amendments to the Act have been presented to Parliament.
Section 44 of the current Act makes driving under the influence of alcohol, causing the injury or death of a person while driving with alcohol levels beyond legal limits an offence punishable by a jail term of three to 10 years and a fine of RM8,000 to RM20,000.
“I’m all for more severe punishment for drink-driving which causes death. It is very irresponsible for anyone to drive on the road under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which endangers other road users.
“One thing for sure is that the punishment will be more severe. We already received the Cabinet’s approval to proceed with amendments that will allow for a more stringent or heavier punishment. But in what form, it will be announced later.”
Besides stiffer penalties, the ministry would also look at other aspects such as enforcement, health assessment and stepping up awareness campaigns on drink-driving.
Loke said the announcement on the tabling of the Bill would be made once the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) prepares the draft bill.
“We will have to do a first reading of the Bill and only then I can make the announcement.
“The draft bill has to be completed first. It then has to be presented to the Cabinet for its approval. Thereafter, it will be brought to Parliament," he said.
Loke had earlier said he hoped to table the Bill in Parliament in June or July.
On Jan 29, Loke said the review would include an assessment of blood alcohol content standards, heavier penalties as well as the effectiveness of awareness campaigns.
He had said the government was looking at reviewing the current blood alcohol content (BAC) standards in Malaysia, which he described as “quite liberal”.
Malaysia’s current threshold is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml blood. The ministry is looking to adopt the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standard, in which the prescribed limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.