Reconsider proposal to suspend indefinitely the licenses of drunk drivers


Media Statement
Teresa Kok Suh Sim

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Yesterday, the Federal Internal Security and Public Order Director Datuk Othman Talib proposed that drivers who are caught driving under the influence of alcohol will have their licenses suspended indefinitely.

I urge the Internal Security Ministry to seriously reconsider its proposal and formulate a more prudent set of penalties to deal with drink drivers and not resort to such drastic attempts, well-intentioned as they may be.


While we agree that strict action must be taken against those who are caught drink driving, nonetheless, such a proposal to suspend indefinitely their licenses is clearly too harsh.


Many members of the public, when asked for their views, had expressed their disapproval of such a measure, which they felt was bordering on the extreme.


Instead of such a drastic measure, The Internal Security Ministry should first consider imposing other forms of punishment such as increasing the amount of fine for the offence, especially in the case of first-time offenders.


We must bear in mind that there are many people who indulge in social drinking and may not be aware of the permitted level of alcohol consumption while driving. Grave injustice would be caused if their licenses were to be suspended indefinitely merely because they had gone slightly over the allowable alcohol limit.


It is important therefore that we differentiate between first time offenders and repeat or habitual offenders and ensure that the penalty meted out is proportionate to the offence concerned.


For those who are repeatedly caught in the act of drink driving, suspension of licenses may be appropriate to serve as a deterrent. Even then, there has to be clear guidelines on the suspension, i.e. the length of the suspension and the conditions that a suspended driver must fulfil in order to regain his license must be spelled out clearly and categorically.


To suspend indefinitely the driving licenses of drink drivers is arbitrary in nature and could lead to abuse of power and corrupt practice on the part of the enforcement authorities.




* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, MP for Seputeh and DAP National Publicity Secretary