E-briefing: Drink Driving

E-briefing: Drink Driving
13 Nov 2018

Drink Driving

The offence of drink driving in Singapore is governed by the Road Traffic Act (Cap 27) (“RTA”) section 67.

A person who, when driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, and is unfit to drive for the reason that he is under the influence of an intoxicating substance to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle, shall be found guilty of the offence of drink driving. This is also the case where the person has so much alcohol in his body that the proportion of it in his breath or blood exceeds the legal limit of 35 microgrammes (ug) per 100 millilitres (ml) of breath, or 80 milligrammes (mg) per 100 ml of blood.

A person convicted of this offence may be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than S$1,000.00 and not more than S$5,000.00, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.

For subsequent conviction, an offender may be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than S$3,000.00 and not more than S$10,000.00, and to a mandatory term of imprisonment of not more than 12 months.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, the Court may also disqualify an offender from holding or obtaining a driving licence for not less than 12 months from the date of conviction. Where a sentence of imprisonment has been imposed, the disqualification takes effect from the date of release from prison.

Being in Charge of a Motor Vehicle while under the Influence of Drink

A person may also be charged under section 68 RTA for merely being in charge of a motor vehicle while unfit to drive for the reason that he is under the influence of an intoxicating substance to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle. This is also the case where the person has so much alcohol in his body that the proportion of it in his breath or blood exceeds the legal limit.

The offence is punishable on conviction with a fine of not less than S$500.00 and not more than S$2,000.00, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months. A subsequent conviction is punishable with a fine of not less than S$1,000.00 and not more than S$5,000.00, and to a mandatory term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, on a second or subsequent conviction, the Court may also disqualify an offender from holding or obtaining a driving licence for not less than 12 months from the date of release from prison.

A person shall be deemed not to have been in charge of a motor vehicle if he is able to prove the following:-

  1. That at the time of the purported offence there was no likelihood of his driving the vehicle so long as he remained unfit to drive or so long as his blood alcohol level was above the prescribed limit; and
  2. That between his becoming unfit to drive or the time his blood alcohol level first exceeded the prescribed limit, and the material time, he had not driven the vehicle on a road or other public place.

What Happens Next?

You will be charged in Court. At this stage, you may choose to claim trial or plead guilty. You may also seek an adjournment to write a letter of appeal (called a “letter of representations”) to the Attorney General’s Chambers requesting that the charge(s) against you be withdrawn, reduced, or taken into consideration. You may wish to engage a lawyer to assist you with drafting and submission of the letter of representations.

Depending on the outcome of your appeal, you may be charged under the same sections of the RTA, under a section with a lower prescribed punishment, or have some charges taken into consideration. Having a charge taken into consideration means that you will not be sentenced for that particular charge, but the sentences of your other charges may be calibrated upwards to account for the separate offence.

In exceptional circumstances, the charge(s) against you may be withdrawn.

You may then enter your plea. Should you wish to plead guilty, you will have to prepare submissions on mitigation and sentencing for the Court to explain the mitigating circumstances surrounding the offence. You may wish to have a lawyer assist you with preparation and submission of this document.

Alternatively, should you decide to claim trial, the Court will set trial dates on which you (and your lawyer, if any) will have to attend at Court to defend yourself.

Once you are sentenced, you may pay your fine (if any) at the Court. You may also begin serving your sentence of imprisonment (if any) on the day you are sentenced. If your licence is suspended, you will have to surrender it to the Traffic Police within 7 days of sentencing.


Author:

Akesh Abhilash

Senior Legal Associate, Eversheds Harry Elias 

AkeshAbhilash@eversheds-harryelias.com

 

For more information, please contact our Business Development Manager, Ricky Soetikno at rickysoetikno@eversheds-harryelias.com

 

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