GIS - 23 November 2016: The National Assembly voted yesterday the Road Traffic (Amendment No.2) Bill, which provides for stricter penalties for serious road traffic offences namely drink driving and driving without due care.
The main object of the Bill is to amend the Road Traffic Act so as to increase the penalties for certain serious offences, in particular those relating to dangerous driving, driving without care, and causing death by careless driving when under the influence of intoxicating drink or drugs.
With regard to causing death by dangerous driving, the term of imprisonment is increased from three to five years with a fine of not less than Rs 25,000 and not more than Rs 50,000. Furthermore, a new sub section has been inserted in case of second or subsequent conviction, where the proposed fine shall not be less than Rs 75,000 and not more than Rs 100,000. The term of imprisonment shall not be less than 12 months and not more than eight years.
The penalty for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of intoxicating drink or drugs, passes from three years to five years of imprisonment for the first conviction. A new subsection, which caters for a second and subsequent conviction, has been inserted, and for which the fine shall not be less than Rs 75,000 nor more than Rs 100,000, and the term of imprisonment shall not be less than 12 months nor more than eight years.
According to the Bill, cyclists being found to be under the influence of alcohol will be sanctioned. Where a cyclist refuses to submit himself/herself to a preliminary breath test, he shall be fined for a sum of not less than Rs 5,000 and not more than Rs 25,000. In the case where a driver of a motor vehicle refuses to submit himself/herself to a preliminary breath test, the fine to be imposed has been increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000; however, it shall not exceed Rs 25,000.
By virtue of the Bill, Police officers will carry out Random Breath Test as practised in many other countries. This provision would cater for those driving under the influence of alcohol to inadvertently escape from being detected by the Police and continue to drive. As for the detention of a person found to be driving under the influence of alcohol, or affected by alcohol or a drug, provision has been made so as to keep the driver in police custody until he/she is sober, notwithstanding the fact that an arrangement may have been made for another driver to drive the vehicle.
The Bill also empowers a Magistrate to immediately order a person to be disqualified from driving a motor vehicle for a period not exceeding two months, or from holding or obtaining a licence in Mauritius for a period not exceeding six months, where that person is found to be driving a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration exceeding the prescribed limit.
In case of road accident, the driver must report the matter within one hour, instead of four hours, at the nearest police station or to a Police officer, after its occurrence. The fine for an offence committed under this section is maintained at Rs 5,000, but the term of imprisonment has been increased from six months to three years.
Statistics show that from January to 17 November 2016, 116 fatal road accidents have been reported to Police, in which 126 persons have lost their lives. In this regard, road safety is high on Government agenda and regarded as a matter of national importance.
A National Road Safety Strategy has been adopted in May 2016, and is being implemented over a period of ten years in line with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. One of the overriding objectives is to achieve a 50% reduction in the number of killed and serious injury crashes by the year 2025. The Road Traffic (Amendment No.2) Bill lies within the strategic fields of actions of the National Road Safety Strategy which is geared towards, among others, strengthening Road Traffic Law and Enforcement.
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