Harsher penalties are in store for those charged for driving recklessly and while under the influence of drugs and alcohol now that the proposed amendments to Sections 41 to 45 of the Road Transport Act 1987 have been passed by the Dewan Negara.

Tabled by deputy transport minister Hasbi Habibollah, the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020 was approved yesterday with the support of the majority of senate members, Bernama reports. During the winding up of the debate on the bill, he said the objective of the amendments was to make the law a strong deterrent measure against such behaviour. “Hopefully, this will have a positive impact on road safety and the safety of all road users,” he said.

In all, the bill contains 15 amendments, which adopt heavier penalties as previously proposed. Among them is the amendment to Section 41 of Act, with the fines and maximum jail term for those convicted of causing death due to reckless and dangerous driving being increased to RM20,000 to RM50,000 and/or a five to 10 year jail sentence from the previous RM5,000 to RM20,000 fine and/or a jail term of two to 10 years.

Amendments have also been made to Section 44 of the same act. Now, those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent of causing death are set to face a jail term between 10 and 15 years and fined between RM50,000 to RM100,000, and they will also be disqualified from holding a driving licence for a period of 10 years 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. Previously, the maximum jail time was 10 years and the maximum fine was RM20,000.

The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent of causing injury without death have also been increased. Those convicted for this will face a seven to 10 year jail term and a fine from RM30,000 to RM50,000 for the first offence. A subsequent offence will see penalties being increased to a 10 to 15 year jail term and a RM50,000 to RM100,000 fine.

Also amended in the bill is the prescribed limits of alcohol as detected through breathalyser, urine and blood tests. Under the new law, the limit of alcohol content is now 22 microgrammes in 100 ml of breath, 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood and 67 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine, levels which are in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.