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Drunk Driving a Serious Problem with Thailand’s Motorists

Light penalties and weak enforcement, plus the near-impossibility of convicting ‘connected’ people, blunt campaigns to reduce drunk driving.

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The Office of the Judiciary in Thailand has reported that over 18,000 motorists were sent to court on drunk driving charges from Dec 27 to 31. A spokesperson said said courts have been flooded by drunk driving cases.

Suriyan Hongvilai, spokesman of the Office, said they have seen 18,314 people found guilty of drunk driving. On New Year’s Eve alone, 8,744 were arrested for drunk driving and sent to court.

The two other charges keeping courts busy were driving without a license (2,947 cases) and driving under the influence of drugs (259).

Despite a campaign to deter drivers, drunk driving was once again a prime culprit in the holiday road carnage. Above all accounting for 32.29% of all accidents. This was followed by speeding (29.5%), and cutting off other motorists (15.6%), according to the Road Safety Directing Centre. Above all motorcycle riders and elderly drivers were the hardest hit.

Motorcycles were involved in 80.9% of crashes, while road users aged over 50 accounted for 25% of victims. The peak time for traffic accidents was 4pm-8pm.

A total of 256 were killed and 2,588 injured in 2,529 road accidents nationwide from Dec 27 to 31st. On Dec 31 alone, 42 people were killed and 567 injured in 542 road accidents.

The New Year death toll fell slightly from last year. While injuries were significantly lower than on an average day, according the Road Safety Center.

Drunk Driving and the Law in Thailand

Under Thai law, drunk drivers can face fines of up to 200,000 baht and/or 10 years in jail plus suspension or revocation of their driving licenses. But in many cases, the police and courts grant leniency.

In many drunk-driving cases in Thailand, drivers will be given suspended sentences. So they can go on living their normal lives as long as they don’t get caught again.

The WHO report indicated that 26% of road deaths in Thailand involve alcohol.

Chiang Rai Times recommends readers read Justice Impaired – Click here

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