Driving under the influence of alcohol was flat-out decriminalized in China until 2011 and, after a number of deadly incidents during this year’s Spring Festival, the government seems ready to take serious action against drunk driving.
There were, apparently, some 800 cases of “driving under the influence” nationwide during the peak of Spring Festival celebrations, “of which more than 90 were drunk driving cases,” according to the China Daily. The distinction between “under the influence” and “drunk” is presumably one of BAC, but the Daily doesn’t elaborate.
It was, for a long time, essentially legal to drink and drive, so long as you didn’t hit anything; simply being drunk behind the wheel was not enough for police to press criminal charges. The stories coming out of this year’s Spring Festival have caused many to rethink the nation’s lax drunk driving laws:
One passenger was killed and another three severely injured after their van was hit by a passenger car in south China’s Hainan Province on Monday. The passenger car driver was found drunk driving, police investigation show.
On January 30, a driver surnamed Liu was found drunk driving after his car claimed four people’s lives and injured another three on a rural road in east China’s Shandong Province.
These are but a few of the hundreds of reported accidents, let alone those who managed to slip by unnoticed. As a browse through Shanghaiist’s traffic-accident-related stories can attest, China has more than a few issues concerning its sober driving population, let alone the baijiu-bombed New Years crowd. The Ministry of Public Security has ordered stricter inspections to detect if drivers are intoxicated (even if they are only slightly above the legal limit) and traffic police have been ordered to be more pro-active in searching for intoxicated drivers.