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Tightened traffic law brings down number of DUI cases: police

This file photo, taken on Nov. 27, 2020, shows a police officer conducting a breathalyzer test on a car driver in Seoul. (Yonhap)
This file photo, taken on Nov. 27, 2020, shows a police officer conducting a breathalyzer test on a car driver in Seoul. (Yonhap)
The number of drunk driving accidents in Seoul sharply dropped two years into enforcing stronger DUI laws, police data showed Thursday.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, 931 DUI accidents have been reported in the capital from December last year to June, down 41.2 percent from 1,583 from December 2017 to June 2018.

The number of deaths in such accidents also dropped by 33.3 percent to eight over the same period.

In late 2018, the National Assembly revised DUI-related laws, including the Road Traffic Act, to toughen punishment for drunk driving offenses after a young Army conscript was killed by a driver under the influence of alcohol in the southeastern port city of Busan earlier that year.

Under the revised laws, dubbed the Yoon Chang-ho Act named after the victim, DUI offenses resulting in deaths can be punished by up to life imprisonment and those resulting in injuries by up to 15 years in prison.

The blood alcohol level for license suspension was lowered to 0.03 percent from 0.05 percent. The level for license revocation also got pushed down to 0.08 percent from 0.1 percent.

With stronger laws in place, the number of busted drunk driving cases also fell by 24.7 percent to 12,363 over the past year. Before the amendments were fully enforced in June 2019, the corresponding figure was 16,414.

Of the apprehended, 77.4 percent had their driver's license revoked, up over 10 percentage points over the same period.

The Seoul police said they will intensify crackdown on DUIs involving cars and personal mobility devices, like electric scooters, as more people are expected to be out and about until late at night under forthcoming eased social distancing rules.

From July, restaurants and bars in the broad capital area will be allowed to operate until midnight. Currently, they can only stay open until 10 p.m. (Yonhap)



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