The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

NO. 35 SEPTEMBER 3, 2009
Newsletter> NO. 35 SEPTEMBER 3, 2009
UPDATED: August 31, 2009 NO. 35 SEPTEMBER 3, 2009
Is Drunk Driving a Felony?


Drunk driving, a major killer in China for decades, may soon incur harsher penalties for offenders. Several high-profile alcohol-related traffic accidents in recent months have triggered a nationwide debate on whether driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) should be subject to the Criminal Law.

On June 30, in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, a drunk driver killed five people, injured four and damaged six cars when he was behind the wheel.

A sport utility vehicle killed a 16-year-old girl on the night of August 4 in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province. The driver was found to be driving drunk.

In 2008, 73,484 people died in China as a result of traffic accidents. Almost 20,000 of those deaths resulted from drunk driving.

Some attribute the growing trend of alcohol-related traffic accidents to ineffective punishments. The Road Traffic Safety Law requires that confirmed drunk drivers be detained for 15 days when nothing serious happens and be forced to pay a fine of 2,000 yuan ($300). When a drunk driver causes a traffic accident, the penalty includes imprisonment between three and seven years.

Some lawyers are appealing to revise the Criminal Law, saying that drunk driving should be made into a felony. Their suggestion has been supported by a majority of netizens in a recent online survey.

Other lawyers say that, even if the drivers are sentenced to death, road safety will not be better protected. Tough penalties may have a deterrent effect in the short term, but the long-term solution, they say, is to cultivate rule-abiding awareness among drivers.

More severe punishment needed

Li Long (Pengcheng Evening News): The Road Traffic Safety Law explicitly forbids drunk driving, but in reality DUI offenses are reported everywhere. Due to a lack of uniform standards, the penalty for drunk drivers varies in different regions. For example, in cases of drunk driving with fatalities, drivers who were accused of breaking traffic laws and regulations would be sentenced to at most three years in prison, but those who were charged with endangering public safety would be sentenced to death.

The current Criminal Law should be revised to stipulate that DUI constitutes a felony. In the United States, if a drunk-driving accident leads to the loss of life, the driver will be accused of "murder in the second degree." We should also reinforce the punishment.

Zhang Guangjun (Procuratorial Daily): In China, drunk driving now causes tens of thousands of traffic accidents and 50 percent of traffic deaths.

In modern society, laws, especially the Criminal Law, need to embody the spirit of tolerance, but this does not necessarily mean that criminals can be exempt from punishment. While also safeguarding the basic rights of criminal drivers, it's more important to protect law-abiding citizens against the threat posed by drunk drivers.

Wu Renshou (www.newsssc.org): Traffic offenses fall into three categories in the current Criminal Law of China—average road accidents that carry a punishment of less than three years in prison, hit-and-run that brings imprisonment of three to seven years and fatal hit-and-run that brings imprisonment of seven to 15 years. The Chinese legal system has been too lenient on traffic offenses.

Although DUI is banned in the Road Traffic Safety Law, the law still fails to prevent DUI offenses from happening again and again. The root cause is that DUI has not been criminalized separately.

1   2   Next  

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved