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Archive for October 14th, 2009

Passengers of Drunk Drivers: Victims or Accomplices?

The Shanghai Daily notes that Chinese police are considering a plan to charge the passengers of drunk drivers:

CHINA has already mounted a massive crackdown on drunk drivers and is now considering even tougher legislation, including a clause that will penalize passengers who aid and abet offenders.

The nation’s police authority is seeking public opinion on a draft that outlines this proposal.
According to the draft, passengers in the same vehicle as a drunk driver will be fined if it is deemed they did not make all reasonable efforts to stop the offender from getting behind the wheel.

As the draft has not classified the type of vehicle covered by the clause, some commuters have expressed concerns about whether they will be held accountable if a bus driver is under the influence of alcohol. Xu Yuan, a Shanghai architect, said the regulation was senseless as passengers were likely to have no idea about whether their bus driver had been drinking. Zhan Yan, a Shanghai student, thought the draft was reasonable if the passenger was a relative or close friend of the driver.

The proposal seeks to increase penalties on drunk drivers, including detention and life-long driving-license bans for multiple offenders. Drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents deemed as manslaughter face up to seven years’ jail instead of three years at present.

Drunk drivers in Shanghai already face the maximum penalties allowed by law. They could also be charged with the crime of “endangering public security by dangerous means,” which has happened in two cases in Chengdu, in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, and Foshan, in the southern Guangdong Province. Sun Weiming, who killed four people while drunk driving in Chengdu last December, has been jailed for life. Drunk driver Li Jingquan, who killed two people on September 16, 2006, in Foshan, was also imprisoned for life.
The national blitz from mid-August was sparked by an increase in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

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Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 at 7:56 am by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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