Thailand mulls increasing DUI fines tenfold

A teen street racer shows off a motorcycle trick for his friends. File photo: Alexander Hotz/ Coconuts Media
A teen street racer shows off a motorcycle trick for his friends. File photo: Alexander Hotz/ Coconuts Media

With drunk driving still a leading cause of death on Thailand’s notoriously dangerous roads, the government is considering increasing DUI fines by tenfold — from a current maximum of THB20,000 (about US$626) to a stout THB200,000 (about US$2,260).

Pol. Maj. Gen. Ekkarak Limsangkat, a member of the committee in charge of revising the traffic laws, said the suggested penalty increase is now being reviewed by the Council of State, local media reported today.

Currently, DUIs are punishable by a one-year jail term and/or a fine of THB10,000 to THB20,000. Drivers also have their driver’s license confiscated for six months.

If the new law passes, the fines will dramatically increase across the board (THB100,000-HB200,000) the potential prison term remains the same.

Maj. Gen. Ekkarak added that fines are supposed to be commensurate with the level of alcohol in the blood — basically, the more you drink, the harsher fine you’ll have to pay.

While the current DUI law threatens a one-year jail term, in practice, most who’ve committed the offenses are more likely to be given a fine and community service.

A 2015 report from World Health Organization ranked Thai roads as the second-deadliest in the world, behind Libya, noting that 26 percent of all road deaths were attributed to alcohol.

Every year, road accidents go through the roof during the country’s major holidays. This year, a total of 841 people died on the roads during the New Year’s and Songkran holidays, which are dubbed by officials as the “seven dangerous days.”

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