Drop in number of drunken drivers caught

Updated: 2012-01-02 09:18

By Chen Xin (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The number of people found drunken driving has dropped sharply across the country since harsher punishments took effect on May 1.

A total of 38,000 drunken drivers were rounded up across the country from May 1 to Dec 30. The number was down 45 percent compared to the same period in 2010, according to the traffic management department of the Ministry of Public Security. Another 238,000 were stopped for driving after drinking.

Drop in number of drunken drivers caught

Prisoners who were put behind bars for drunken driving work in a vegetable greenhouse in Beijing. [Provided to China Daily]

At the same time, 708 people were killed in traffic accidents connected to drunken driving, a year-on-year decrease of 3.4 percent.

Drivers found with 80 milligrams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood are considered drunk under the law.

Starting May 1, drivers found drunk can face prison terms of between one and six months as well as have their licenses revoked for five years.

Drunken drivers who cause a death or who injure two or more people can be banned from driving for life and face severe criminal punishments that include the death penalty.

Gao Xiaosong, a famous musician, was sent to prison for six months and fined 4,000 yuan ($635) in May for drunken driving and causing a four-car collision that injured three people. A breath test showed he had 243 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood - three times the legal limit.

The 42-year-old was also banned from the roads for five years.

Gao was released from jail in November and was recently nominated by a car producer as an ambassador of a project to publicize good driving habits that drivers should bear in mind.

"Although I cannot drive in the next five years, I will try in other ways to promote the concept of 'Car Citizens'," Gao said at a press conference on Dec 11 in Beijing. The "Car Citizens" concept aims to encourage drivers to obey traffic rules and form good driving habits so as to promote safer traffic.

Gao said he plans to write a theme song for the project.

However, his new mission has received mixed opinions from the public.

"It's not appropriate to choose Gao as the ambassador because he himself was a violator and his mistake caused severe consequences," said an Internet user on his Sina weibo, a Twitter-like micro blog.

But many hold different views.

"Since he had acknowledged his mistake and now wants to do something for the public interest, we should respect him," said Li Xie, a Beijing resident.

Li said as drinking is a custom, especially when people celebrate festivals, he and his friends do not drive when they plan to enjoy a party, or they hire a driver to take them and their cars home.