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Jail time, Driving Bans, Licence Suspensions, & Harsh Fines for drunk or ‘high’ drivers

Updated: May 16, 2022

Drivers who cause death by “motor manslaughter” while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could face up to 10 years in jail. A driver in this state that causes grievous bodily harm could get a jail sentence of up to five years.

These new penalties are among the proposed amendments in the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill of 2022.

The bill also proposes licence suspensions for first time and repeat offenders; with first timers being banned from driving for one year.

“Where any person is charged for the second time with contravening the provisions of section 35A, 39 or 39A, the court may order the suspension of the licence of that person pending the determination of the charge and upon suspension, the licence of the person shall be surrendered as soon as practicable to the court before which the person is charged.”

Second time offenders found guilty could have their licence suspended for up to two years while motorists who breach the proposed law for a third time could be banned from driving permanently.

Motorists who fail “to surrender a licence as required pursuant to subsection (1) or (2) commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a period of three months.”

The proposed bill is also looking to increase the fines for convicted drunk drivers from the current range of $ 30,000 to $60,000 for first time lawbreakers to not less than $200,000; while for second time from the range of $40,000 to $80,000 to a fine not less than $300,000.

Persons who submit to breathalyser or blood tests and are found to be above prescribed alcohol limits while “driving or attempting to drive or being in charge of a vehicle on the road or other public place” could also see themselves on the receiving end of a $200,000 fine as well as a two year ban from driving. The fine for this offence currently stands at $7500.

The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill of 2022 will also allow a jury or magistrate to convict the person for the offence of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol although they may not have been guilty of motor manslaughter or grievous bodily harm while driving under the influence of either substance.

This could see convicted motorists being banned from having a licence for three years or in the case of a second time offence, a permanent ban from driving.

Government is inviting stakeholder recommendations and submissions on this bill and the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill 2022.

These bills are available for perusal on the Ministry of Legal Affairs website while submissions and recommendations should be emailed to within 21 days from May 14, 2022.


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