Drink driving in Singapore
In Singapore, drink driving is governed by the Road Traffic Act. When driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle, any person who:
- is unfit to drive because he is under the influence of drink or drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of his vehicle; or
- has so much alcohol in his body that the proportion of it in his breath or blood exceeds the prescribed limit, is guilty of an offence.
The punishment for first offenders is usually a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months. Repeat offenders are often punished more harshly. In fact, a fine, imprisonment and disqualification are mandatory. Repeat offenders may be fined between $3,000 and $10,000 and imprisoned for up to 12 months.
The Road Traffic Act also provides for enhanced penalties for those with two or more previous convictions. These convictions may include convictions for offences under section 67 of the Road Traffic Act as well as other offences under the Road Traffic Act. Under the enhanced penalty regime, the court is empowered to punish an offender with three times the amount of punishment that he would otherwise face.
A person found guilty of drink driving would also have his/her driving license disqualified for a period of time. Section 67(2) of the Road Traffic Act provides that:-
A person convicted of an offence under this section shall, unless the court for special reasons thinks fit to order otherwise and without prejudice to the power of the court to order a longer period of disqualification, be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of not less than 12 months from the date of his conviction or, where he is sentenced to imprisonment, from the date of his release from prison.
In determining the sentence, the level of alcohol in the offender’s body is a significant factor. The prescribed limit is 35 micrograms (ug) per 100 millilitres (ml) of breath, or 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood. Exceeding the limit by a significant margin often calls for a heavier penalty.
The High Court had set the following sentencing principles into 3 bands:
- Alcohol level close to the prescribed limit: 35μg – 54μg;
- Alcohol level moderate to high: 55μg – 69μg;
- Alcohol level very substantially exceeds the prescribed level: Greater than 70μg.
The lowest band would lead to a lighter sentence whilst the highest band would attract a heavier penalty. As with all criminal offences, the court would take into account any mitigating or aggravating factors.
The above constitutes general information only. You should seek legal advice from Singapore criminal lawyers for your specific situation.
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