Illegal street racers and road rage offenders set to face stiffer action
If the amendments are passed, first-time offenders will instead face a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to a year in jail.
Speedsters and those prone to road rage - beware. Should proposed changes to the Road Traffic Act be passed into law, those who promote or take part in illegal street races will face heftier fines and double the mandatory jail time.
The courts will also be given more leeway to disqualify motorists from driving if they are convicted in road rage cases.
These were among a slew of amendments that were tabled in Parliament yesterday to improve road safety here, following a spike in illegal racing cases last year.
Under the amendments, the maximum penalties for street racing offences will be increased so that they are aligned with the punishment for dangerous driving.
Currently, those who are guilty of illegal racing face a fine, mandatory imprisonment and forfeiture of the vehicle involved. First-time offenders can be jailed for up to six months and fined between $1,000 and $2,000.
Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to a year and fined between $2,000 and $3,000.
If the amendments are passed, first-time offenders will instead face up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Repeat offenders will be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $10,000.
However, the amendments will also change the current vehicle forfeiture regime for illegal racing.
A vehicle involved in illegal racing will no longer be automatically forfeited. It will not be forfeited if the offender is not the owner of the vehicle and had used it without the owner's consent.
The proposed amendments come in the wake of the fatal high-speed car crash in Tanjong Pagar in February that killed five men, and an increase in the number of people caught for illegal racing.
Last year, at least 26 people were nabbed for illegal street racing, compared with a combined total of 17 people charged with this offence in the five years prior.
Meanwhile, to increase deterrence against road rage, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has proposed giving the courts greater latitude in disqualifying perpetrators from driving.
While the courts are currently allowed to impose disqualification in road rage cases, this is only when the offender is convicted of specific criminal offences listed in the provision such as affray, wrongful restraint and causing hurt.
With the amendments, the provision will cover all offences under any written law committed in a road rage context.
MHA is also creating a new offence to penalise those who obstruct justice in road traffic cases.
This will apply to individuals who mislead the Traffic Police by asking someone else to take the rap to avoid demerit points or other penalties, or if they alter, suppress or destroy information that can identify the offending driver.
It will also apply to individuals who take the rap for others.
Those convicted will be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to a year, or both. Such individuals may also face disqualification from driving.
Another new offence will penalise motorcyclists who fail to ensure that their pillion rider wears a helmet. Last year, motorcyclists and pillion riders made up about 60 per cent of all traffic fatalities.
Under the new offence, a motorcyclist who does not ensure that his pillion rider wears a helmet can be fined up to $1,000, jailed for up to three months, or both.
The maximum fines for importing or selling non-approved helmets will also be doubled.
Another amendment requires companies to designate someone of sufficient seniority to report when their vehicles have been used to commit traffic offences, or face penalties. Companies will also have to keep records for a longer period.
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