Cyclists call for harsher punishment

Cyclists call for harsher punishment

About 70 cyclists turned up to protest and petition Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda for safer roads and better justice for accident victims. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
About 70 cyclists turned up to protest and petition Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda for safer roads and better justice for accident victims. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

A group of cyclists stepped up a call Thursday for stiffer penalties for drink drivers, demanding that those who cause fatal accidents be charged with manslaughter.

Santi Opaspakornkij, vice-president of the Thai Cycling for Health Association, said the current law was too light to address the consequences of drunk driving. He cited the case of a fatal accident in Chiang Mai on Sunday when a woman driver smashed her vehicle into a group of cyclists, killing three and injuring two.

The driver was charged with reckless driving resulting in deaths and injury and driving under the influence.

The woman, 23-year-old Patchuda Jayruan admitted she was drunk at the time of the accident.

Mr Santi said the charges pressed against drunk drivers — reckless driving resulting in deaths — were too lenient, as all the cases end up with suspended sentences, with no one put behind bars.

Instead, he said, police should either push for stiffer penalties against drink drivers or close the legal loopholes that make it impossible to file manslaughter charges.

A group of 70 cyclists, led by Mr Santi, submitted a nine-point petition to Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda asking for better safety measures for people who commute by bicycle and also justice for cyclists who fall victim to reckless or drunk drivers.

The nine-point petition included demands for stricter measures by police officers on drink drivers as well as those driving on the hard shoulder of roads, which is against the law.

The group also demanded provincial governors conduct monthly records of road accidents, related to drunk driving and traffic violations, and open the information to the public.

The petition also called on police to strictly enforce the closing times of venues selling alcohol and to conduct a fair and transparent process with drivers who cause deaths of cyclists.

Meanwhile, Doi Saket police station's investigator Pol Lt Col Komkrich Kerdkaew said police had obtained an arrest warrant for Ms Patchuda, who received medical treatment at Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital.

Ms Patchuda was detained at the hospital after her alleged confession.

In Bangkok, Saran Inthanin, 23 - who disappeared after a hit-and-run that killed one cyclist and injured two others on Monday evening, only to turn himself in two days later - was released on 200,000-baht bail Thursday.

Kittichet Sakayapapwichanon, chief of the Khok Khram police station, said the suspect was released because he had surrendered to police and was not likely to run away.

Mr Saran was charged with reckless driving resulting in death and damages, and fleeing the scene after crashing without providing help to the victims or alerting officials, Pol Col Kittichet said.

The woman in the car with Mr Saran at the time of accident is being questioned, he said, adding she would face charges if she is found to also have played a role in the accident.


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