Drunk drivers are morgue-bound - literally
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Drunk drivers are morgue-bound - literally

Drink-driving offenders on probation and ordered to do community service may find themselves working with bodies in hospital morgues, according to a Probation Department official.

Nonjit Natepukka, director of the Community Affairs and Community Service Division, said official records showed the number of drunk drivers arrested during New Year celebrations continued to increase, and most of them were teenagers, both new and repeat offenders.

Based on the latest assessment, the probation department has found that ordering convicted drunk drivers to perform their required community service by cleaning roads, cutting trees or helping hospital personnel look after patients being treated for road accidents failed to make some of them realise and change their dangerous behaviour.   

As a result, Mr Nonjit said the agency wanted to take the mandatory community work to the next level by proposing that offenders be sent to help hospital staff in the morgue in a bid to make them better understand the effects of drink driving.

The proposal was submitted to the cabinet last week and is pending consideration. Once approved by the cabinet, the courts can then decide whether a convicted drink-driving offender should be sent to do community service at a hospital morgue. 

Mr Nonjit was speaking at a press briefing on road safety issues during the Songkran festival with representatives from the Ministry of Public Health and the Royal Thai Police. 

Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoen, deputy permanent secretary for public health, said the new measure would also see offenders being sent to work in other hospital departments including the intensive care unit (ICU), but stressed that this was to be decided and ordered by a court.

Public hospitals had been instructed to prepare for the change, he said. 

Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said Thailand had been ranked second in the world for the highest road deaths and number one in Asia. The Songkran holiday saw 2.3 people die per hour and 160 others injured. State agencies are working together to reduce the number of casualties, but motorists themselves were the most important factor in preventing accidents, he added.

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