Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government was considering a revision in road safety regulations to impose heavier penalties for drink driving, a senior official said Friday.
One of the changes being considered is a provision on dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm as an offense, in addition to the existing provision on dangerous driving causing death, Secretary for Housing and Transport Eva Cheng said.
A second possibility is for aggravating factors to be introduced.
Cheng said it is also possible that punishments will be imposed according to the content of alcohol found in a drunk driver's blood.
"The suggestion is that we should administer heavier penalties, " she said.
Hong Kong has seen at least three deadly traffic accidents over the last two weeks, with one of them on Jan. 23 in southern Hong Kong claiming six lives. A driver involved in the accident was reportedly suspect of drink driving.
While the number of drink driving cases leading to casualties or deaths dropped from 104 in 2007 to 82 last year, statistics released by Hong Kong Police also showed that drink driving has been on the rise -- 1490 cases out of some 39,000 tests in 2008, in contrast to 1300 to 1400 cases out of 42,000 in the previous two years.
Hong Kong has revised its regulations to provide for random breath tests starting on Feb. 9, which Cheng said could be an effective deterrent against drink driving.
Drink-drivers may face up to three years in jail and a fine of no more than 25,000 HK dollars (3,205 U.S. dollar). Offenders could also be disqualified from driving.
The HKSAR government will monitor how effective the random tests will be, Cheng said, calling for more efforts in promoting safe driving.
(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2009)