Col Pakin explained that move to use murder charges against drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents follows Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon announcing the policy shift in Bangkok last Friday (Apr 5). (See story here.)
The order is to be in effect during the Seven Days of Danger national road-safety campaign from aprill 11-17.
“Phuket Police will do everything in their power to follow Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s order for police to charge speeding and drunk motorists who cause fatal accidents during the Songkran holiday with murder,” Col Pakin told The Phuket News.
Col Pakin also explained the consequences for drivers who refuse to provide a breath test for alcohol.
“If a driver refuses to take a breath test, police will charge the driver with interfering with a police order,” he said.
“Then police will make a formal record of the driver’s behavior in the case report. This report can include the driver refusing to take a breath test, whether the driver was behaving in a drunken manner and whether the officer could smell alcohol on the driver’s breath, and whether any alcohol was found in the vehicle,” he added.
“Police can also video record the driver for the case report,” Col Pakin explained.
“After that police will still charge the driver with drunk driving and take the driver to the relevant police station to have the charge recorded,” Col Pakin said.
“After that, if the driver can post bail the driver will be released. But if the driver is unable to post bail, the driver will be held in remand until the case is heard in court,” he added.
“In short, drivers should provide a breath test to prove whether they are drunk or not,” Col Pakin advised.
Col Pakin also expressed his faith in the breath-test equipment used by police at checkpoints.
“The equipment that police use for breath tests must be tested by the Ministry of Health’s Department of Medical Sciences every year. So the results of breath tests are reliable,” he said.
Former Patong Police Chief Col Chaiwat Uikam, who is now Deputy Commander of the Phuket Provincial Police in charge of all Traffic Police on the island, confirmed that officers will seize vehicles of drunk drivers.
“The vehicles will be kept at the relevant police station until the case is heard in court,” Col Chaiwat told The Phuket News.
“Only after the court is case finished can they get vehicles back,” he added.
Police will not accept payment of fines at the police station, Col Chaiwat noted. “All drunk driving cases must go to court,” he said.
Police will also seize licenses of drivers arrested for drunk driving, Col Chaiwat confirmed.
However, unlike in years past, police in Phuket will not hold the driver’s licence until the Songkran holidays are over.
“The officer handling the arrest will decide how long to hold on to the licence, or even if to request the Phuket Land Transport Office to suspend or revoke it,” Col Chaiwat said.
Of note, the minimum penaty drunk driving is up to one year imprisonment or a fine of B5,000 to B20,000 or both, and driver’s license suspended for six months. (See full list of penalties for drunk driving and other moving violations here.)
Meanwhile, Col Pakin urged all drivers to take care on the roads over the Songkran holidays.
“I ask all people taking part in the Songkran festivities in Phuket to be cautious when driving and to respect traffic rules so that everyone can get to their destinations safely and happily celebrate the Songkran festival,” Col Pakin said.