The National Police Agency (NPA) has finalized tough new measures to fight drink-driving under a proposed revision to the Road Traffic Law, increasing harsher penalties for drivers, passengers and alcohol suppliers.
Penalties for drink-driving were increased in 2001, but the police decided to introduce harsher punishment after an accident in Fukuoka in August killed three young children, and drink-driving emerged as a social problem. Police aim to seek public support for the bill and submit it at a regular session of the Diet next year.
Under the proposal, the current penalty for drivers who are heavily drunk (up to three years' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 500,000 yen) will be increased to up to five years' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 1 million yen. The current fine for driving under the influence with an alcohol level of at least 0.15 milligrams of alcohol per liter of expelled breath (imprisonment of up to one year or a fine of up to 300,000 yen) will be increased to imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.
Police also plan to get tougher on hit-and-run crimes, increasing the penalty from imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen to imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to 1 million yen.
In addition police will step up measures against people who encourage drink-driving, provide cars to people who have been drinking or provide alcohol to people who are driving.
People who supply vehicles or alcohol to drivers who are heavily drunk will face up to five years' imprisonment or a fine of up to 1 million yen, while in cases of driving under the influence, they will face up to three years' imprisonment or a fine of up to 500,000 yen -- the same penalty as for drivers.
In addition, people who ride in cars with drivers who are drunk will face up to three year's imprisonment or a fine of up to 500,000 yen, while in cases of driving under the influence, they will face a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to 300,000 yen.
The penalty for refusing to take a roadside alcohol test (currently a fine not exceeding 300,000 yen) will be increased to imprisonment of up to three months or a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Police apparently aim to discourage people from evading tests by introducing a prison sentence.
Under the National Police Agency's proposed measures, people will also be required to wear seatbelts in the back seats of vehicles. Previously not wearing a seatbelt in the back seat of a vehicle was not considered a violation of the Road Traffic Law.
In fatal traffic accidents last year, the death rate for back seat passengers not wearing seatbelts was about four times higher than for people wearing seatbelts. However, a survey in October this year showed that only 7.5 percent of backseat passengers in cars on regular roads and 12.7 percent of backseat passengers in cars on expressways were wearing seatbelts. (Mainichi)
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December 28, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
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