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Thailand’s Transport Department Seeks Public Opinion on Harsh New Driving Penalties

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Land Transport Department is sounding out public reaction to the planned 5000 percent hike in the fine for driving without a license.

The department is inviting people to express their feelings about the proposal on its website, from now until Sept 11, 2018.

“All opinions will be gathered and taken into account during the process to consider the draft bill,” the department announcement the Bangkok Post reports.

The department plans to amend the law to increase penalties for driving without a license or with an expired license as part of its campaign to reduce road accidents.

Currently, driving without a license carries a maximum penalty of 1,000 baht and/or one month in jail.

Motorists face a maximum fine of 2,000 baht if they drive when their license has expired, been seized or withdrawn from use.

Under the proposal, the maximum fine for driving without a license would be increased 50-fold to 50,000 baht and the maximum jail term from one to three months.

Driving with an invalid license or when the license has been seized or withdrawn by authorities would be raised to a maximum 50,000 baht from the current 2,000 baht, with the added option of a three-month jail term.

The plan was generally greeted with public opposition when initially announced. Even Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha questioned the increase.

Gen Prayut said on Aug 28 he disagreed with the idea and demanded a thorough study of all elements of the proposal from the department. He said he would not approve the amendment as it is if presented to the cabinet.

A Nida poll by the National Institute of Development Administration released on Sunday also showed a majority of people felt the punishment was too harsh, and were not convinced it would reduce the number of accidents on the roads.

The department tried to ease concern, saying on the website that the process was just at the beginning,  with several steps to be taken before the final decision is made.

By Pornprom Satrabhaya

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