Tougher laws aimed at street racers, drink-drivers take effect

Tougher laws aimed at street racers, drink-drivers take effect

Several hundred motorcyclists and pillion riders sit on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Aug 10 after police and soldiers stopped them on the way to what they said was a charity ride to Nakhon Nayok. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Several hundred motorcyclists and pillion riders sit on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road on Aug 10 after police and soldiers stopped them on the way to what they said was a charity ride to Nakhon Nayok. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

New rules invoked under Section 44 of the interim constitution aimed at illegal street racing and drink-driving took effect on Wednesday, allowing police to detain offenders between seven and 15 days.

Violators held in custody are required to undergo behavioural therapy.

Under the new rules, police can confiscate the offenders' vehicles for at least a week and their driving licences for up to 30 days.

The new measures signed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha were published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday and took effect immediately.

The more-stringent measures targeting people who take part in street races or are found driving over the legal alcohol limit were enacted after the National Council for Peace and Order instructed police to crack down on drink-drivers during the New Year holidays, giving them the option of impounding offenders' vehicles.

Owners can only reclaim their vehicles after Jan 4, when the so-called "seven dangerous days" officially ends.      

Between Dec 25-30, authorities have seized 612 vehicles -- 547 motorcycles and 65 cars -- from those found driving under the influence of alcohol. They have ticketed or prosecuted 4,375 motorcyclists and 2,219 drivers of private and public vehicles during the period.

In July, Gen Prayut invoked his special powers under Section 44 to curb illegal street racing, alcohol sales near academic institutes and illegal nightspot operations.

Under the new laws, violators initially will not be treated as criminals and their detention not considered an arrest under the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. However, once the mandatory behavioural treatment is complete, their case will be sent to police for investigation and possible prosecution under the Criminal Procedure Code.

If the offenders are employees of organisations that have operating licences issued by the Department of Land Transport, the department registrar can suspend their licences or close down their businesses for a maximum of 15 days, unless the licence holders can prove they were not involved with the offence committed and have taken reasonable precautions to prevent their workers from breaking the law.


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