Further details have emerged on the amendments to Sections 41 to 45 of the Road Transport Act 1987, which will see heavier penalties being meted out for a series of serious driving-related offences. The changes to the fines and jail terms have been listed out in a set of infographics posted by transport minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong on social media.

While the focus has largely been on offences related to drink-driving, the amended laws also involve stricter punishment for reckless, inconsiderate and careless driving behaviour.

Under Section 41 of the Act, the fines and maximum jail term for those convicted of causing death due to reckless and dangerous driving have been increased across the board. Currently, the fine is between RM5,000 to RM20,000 and/or a jail term of two to 10 years for the first offence.

The amendment will see the fine being increased to RM20,000 to RM50,000 and/or a five to 10 year jail sentence. Subsequent offences will carry a RM50,000 to RM100,000 fine and a maximum jail term of 15 years.

Under Section 42 of the Act, the penalties for driving recklessly and dangerously remain largely unchanged, save for the period in which an offender will be disqualified from holding a driving licence for the first offence. Previously, the period of disqualification was two years, but this will now be increased to five years. Otherwise, the maximum jail term remains less than five years and the maximum fine between RM5,000 to RM10,000 for the first offence.

As for careless and inconsiderate driving offences listed under Section 43, the minimum fine for these have been increased from RM4,000 to RM5,000 for the first offence and to RM10,000 for subsequent offences.

Items under Section 44 are of course the ones covered most on the topic. As previously reported, those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent of causing death are set to face a fine of between RM50,000 to RM100,000 and/or a maximum of 15 years in jail for the first offence.

For a subsequent offence, the jail sentence will be between 15 to 20 years and the maximum fine will further be increased to RM150,000. Under the present law, the maximum jail time is 10 years, and the maximum fine is RM20,000. Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of not less than 10 years from the date of the conviction for the first offence.

The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent of causing injury without death have also been increased. Those charged under this offence can look forward to a fine anywhere from RM30,000 to RM50,000 and/or a seven to 10 year jail term, with a subsequent offence carrying a heftier RM50,000 to RM100,000 fine and a 10 to 15 year jail term.

Even if you don’t get into a mishap, driving while intoxicated or on drugs will land you into more trouble than before. Those caught committing such an offence under Section 45 will now be slapped with a minimum fine of RM1,000 (all the way up to RM5,000) and/or a jail term below two years. First-time offenders will also have their driving licence disqualified for a minimum of two years. If it all sounds like it’s not worth it, it isn’t.

Also included in the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020, which was tabled in parliament earlier this week, is a revision of the prescribed limits of alcohol as detected through breathalyser, urine and blood tests, as reported earlier.

Currently, the levels adopted by the country stands at 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath, 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood or 107 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine. These will be lowered to 22 microgrammes of alcohol for every 100 ml of breath, 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood or 67 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine, in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

The ministry also revealed the results of a survey carried out on the issue of drink-driving. Out of the 345,021 respondents polled, 98% said that the punishment currently in place was too light and that the government should not compromise on the matter, with 94% saying that the fine, jail term and driving licence disqualification period should be significantly increased.

Earlier, Wee had said the amendments were aimed at addressing not just the issue of drink-driving, but also reckless and dangerous driving as well as driving under the influence of drugs. Here’s hoping that it will.