x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Harsher drink-driving penalties needed, official says

Top Dubai prosecutors tells conference that offenders would be deterred from repeating their crime if the sentences were more stringent.

The Guide: Alcohol

Topic: Alcohol laws

ABU DHABI // Dubai’s chief traffic prosecutor has called for tougher laws to stop dangerous drivers.

Speaking at the Road Safety Middle East 2011 conference in the capital, Salah Bu Faroosha said anyone caught drink-driving should automatically have their licence suspended, and be forced to take a road safety course before being allowed back on the road.

He said there were “a number of recurring offenders” for whom stronger penalties were needed to “cut the problem from its roots”.

Driving – or even sitting behind the wheel – after consuming any alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication, currently carries a jail term of between one month and three years, a fine of Dh20,000, or both.

Mr Bu Faroosha said the law should differentiate between various offences. “When a person causes a death in a traffic accident, the gravity of the offence must be taken in to account,” he said.

Currently, causing a highway traffic death draws the same penalties as an inner-city traffic death, even though the driver may have broken more laws.

“When an offender is prosecuted for a number of offences the court sentences the suspect based on the crime that carries the heaviest penalty, said Mr Bu Faroosha on the conference sidelines.

“What we call for is an introduction of aggravating circumstances, which will allow the court to lay heavier sentences if the situation calls for that.”

Currently the Ministry of Interior lists 147 traffic offences. The 1995 traffic law, amended in 2007, leaves suspension of a driver’s licence or confiscation of his car at the judge’s discretion.

Last year, almost all traffic cases in Dubai – 95 per cent – resulted in conviction, Mr Bu Faroosha said. Just six were dismissed by the court.

“The majority of the accidents and offences were caused by human error,” he said.

“The UAE has developed the infrastructure for road safety; over the next few years we want to … reduce the fatalities by presenting these legislations”.

amustafa@thenational.ae