Drunk driving accidents halved due to harsher penalties

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The number of drunk drivers has continued to drop sharply since May 1, when an amended law imposing harsher punishments for driving under the influence of alcohol went into effect.

In the eight months after the enforcement of the amended Criminal Law, police around China reported 38,000 cases of drunk driving, a 45.3 percent decrease year-on-year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Public Security on Saturday.

In the same period, 716 people died in traffic accidents caused by drivers who had consumed alcohol, down by 22.3 percent year-on-year.

The municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai, as well as Zhejiang and Hubei provinces, all registered decreases of more than 50 percent in the number of drunk drivers since May 1.

The amended Criminal Law stipulates that all drunk driving incidents must be considered criminal offenses, whereas the previous law imposed criminal penalties on drunk drivers only when they caused serious traffic accidents.

An amended Road Traffic Safety Law, which also took effect May 1, stipulates that convicted drunk drivers will have their driving licenses revoked, instead of suspended, as in the previous law.

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