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PLA gets tough with lawless drivers
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The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has introduced strict new penalties for personnel caught drink-driving and breaking other traffic rules as troops prepare for a grand military parade through Beijing to mark the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic.

In a statement issued by the PLA's General Staff Headquarters on Monday, the authority asked all military units, especially those under direct control of the Central Military Command and the four general departments, to "eliminate drink-driving and other violations to welcome the National Day with strict military discipline."

Other traffic violations covered by the new code include running red lights, driving military vehicles for personal use and driving without a license.

The headquarters will dispatch more military police to patrol major streets to detect traffic violations involving military vehicles, which carry distinctive white license plates.

Military vehicles are beyond the jurisdiction of traffic police and are managed by the military police who also supervise behavior of all uniformed personnel in public domains.

Military drivers who are caught drink-driving will have their licenses suspended for six months and receive compulsory traffic education.

Those caught drunk-driving will have their licenses revoked and be transferred to other duties, according to the statement.

Previously, military drivers who violated traffic regulations faced only driver education courses.

The new penalties are more severe than those in China's Traffic Safety Law, which stipulates a license suspension of one to three months for drink-drivers and a loss of license for drunk-drivers if they are caught for twice.

Under Chinese regulations, a driver whose level of blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is between 20mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood is a drink-driver. A driver with BAC higher than 80mg/100ml is a drunk-driver.

The penalties were issued during the PLA's final preparations for the military parade to be staged on the National Day on Oct. 1 when thousands of troops and civilians will march down the Chang'an Avenue, the capital's main east-to-west thoroughfare.

About 200,000 people were involved in rehearsals for the civilian parade, mass pageant and evening gala at the weekend.

A large number of military vehicles poured into the area around Tiananmen Square to transport the performers into the area.

The Ministry of Public Security earlier this month launched a two-month anti-drink-driving campaign.

The ministry said it had noted "no obvious drop" in the number of drink-driving cases reported after the campaign was launched.

On Aug. 4, an alleged drunk driver in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, killed a 16-year-old girl. Two days later, another alleged drunk driver in Shanghai killed a 4-year-old boy and injured three others.

(Xinhua News Agency August 31, 2009)

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