Thursday, July 09, 2020

Charging drunk drivers with murder won’t work

Apr 14. 2019
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Most people will applaud the efforts by police to reduce death and carnage on the roads during Songkran, even though they never seem to be very successful.

This year they announced that drunken drivers who cause death would be charged with murder. Sure enough they are now planning to charge with premeditated murder the driver of a Mercedes Benz, who admitted to drinking five beers before getting into his car and killing a police lieutenant colonel from the Crime Suppression Division and his wife in a traffic accident. The offence carries the death penalty under the Penal Code.  

Despite the good intentions of the police, it is a complete mystery to me how the police will prove the intent to commit murder on the part of the Mercedes driver who caused the tragic deaths of these two people and the serious injury of their daughter through his reckless behaviour. Even taking into account the status of the victims, it seems highly unlikely that a court will render a conviction for murder in these circumstances, although a conviction for manslaughter, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, is very likely.

The problem seems to be that police are either unable or unwilling to sustain crackdowns on drunken driving throughout the year and just put on a bit of show of effort during major holidays. For most of the year they are happy to impose on the spot informal fines on drunken drivers and let them get back behind the wheel immediately. The result is that drivers get into the habit of thinking they can get away with drunken driving and don’t bother to modify their behaviour. Instead of making insubstantial threats before holidays, it would be far better, if police actually performed their traffic duties properly throughout the year. 

George Morgan



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