Police said Wednesday that punishments for drunk driving will be increased beginning next month, as part of efforts to curb traffic accidents.
The move comes after the government in June revised laws to punish drunk drivers, imposing different fines or jail terms depending on the offenders blood-alcohol level and number of previous offenses.
Although both the maximum prison term and fine remain unchanged at three years and 10 million won (US$8,748), the new regulations, set to go into effect on Dec. 9, impose much heavier penalties on all offenders, according to the National Police Agency (NPA).
Under the revised Road Traffic Act, drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05-0.1 percent can be sentenced to six months in prison or fined up to 3 million won, while imprisonment of six months to one year or 3 million to 5 million won in fines can be applied to drivers with a BAC of 0.1-0.2 percent, the NPA said.
Those who register more than 0.2 percent BAC, refuse to take a breathalyser test or have been charged with drunk driving at least three times, can be sentenced to one to three years in jail or fined 5 million to 10 million won, it added.
A total of 781 fatalities were caused by drunk drivers last year, accounting for 14.2 percent of all car accident victims, the NPA data showed.
The NPA plans to further strengthen its crackdown on drunk driving by increasing the number of late-night patrols and breathalyser tests for the next two months starting December, a period when many people have parties to commemorate the past year or celebrate the new year, usually involving alcohol. (Yonhap News)