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Campaign to catch drunk drivers
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A drunk driver who killed five people including a pregnant woman on Tuesday in Nanjing of Jiangsu province has triggered a campaign from police to crack down on drunk driving.

Police are stepping up measures to arrest drunk drivers in a 100-day campaign that began yesterday. They are increasing night patrols, carrying out more checkpoints and establishing a citywide inspection network, Nanjing municipal authorities said at yesterday's press conference.

The campaign aims for high visibility to deter those who would choose to drink and drive, by advertising in print media and on TV, radio, and the Internet as well as in bars and restaurants, officials said.

At 8:15 pm Tuesday, a car driven by a drunk driver lost control on a busy street in Jiangning district of Nanjing, and hit nine passersby and six other vehicles.

Three people died at the scene and two died later in the hospital, including a pregnant woman. Local media reported that the woman's unborn baby also died. Four others were injured, Nanjing traffic police said.

According to police, the driver, Zhang Mingbao, 43, from Huai'an, Jiangsu province, was a deputy general manager of a local real estate company. Tests after the accident showed that Zhang's blood alcohol content was 381 milligrams per 100 milliliters. A person is considered drunk when his or her alcohol content is 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters, meaning that Zhang's blood alcohol level was nearly five times over the legal limit.

The registered owner of the car is not Zhang, but a man surnamed Wang, who worked in local procuratorates.

Wang said he is Zhang's friend and sold the car to Zhang last year. Zhang paid him for the car, but Wang has not yet finished paying the bank for the car.

"I haven't changed the registered name to Zhang's name. But we had already signed a private contact," Wang said.

Zhang has been detained by police. Officials from the municipal and provincial governments are still investigating the incident.

Those victims still in the hospital are in stable condition.

In China, the charge of a "traffic offense resulting in death" has a maximum punishment of seven years in prison. Jiangsu province-based lawyer Jia Zheng said the driver should be charged with an offence against public safety.

"The driver knew his drunken driving may put pedestrians at risk. That is intentional behavior, not inattentive driving," he said.

In addition, the city has seen an increase in drunken driving in recent years with about 5,054 cases reported in the first half year. In 2007 and 2008, the number of drunken driving cases was 6,020 and 8,878, respectively.

"More people are injured and killed as a result of vehicle crashes over the years. We're not saying that they're all alcohol-related, but it's a real safety issue for the public," said a Nanjing resident surnamed Lu.

(China Daily July 2, 2009)

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