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  • Stiffest drunk-driving penalties from around the world

    Автор: Steve Mertl 

    Источник: MSN News Autos

    The holiday season is just around the corner, and that means so is a police drunk-driving check-stop. Along with the wave of holiday liquor ads, police have ramped up public-service announcements warning of the consequences for those caught driving with a little too much Christmas cheer on board.

    Canada’s impaired-driving laws are fairly strict, with offenders facing fines, driving suspensions and, in the case of new B.C. legislation, instant impoundment of their vehicles for blowing as little as .05. As of December 1, in Ontario, drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, or who fail to comply with breath testing, face an immediate seven-day vehicle impoundment at roadside.Drunk driving is a crime just about everywhere and sentences, especially for repeat offenders or if death or injury is involved, can be harsh. Here are some examples of penalties from around the world.

    United States

    American impaired-driving laws are similar to those in Canada but penalties in the U.S. justice system can be much tougher.An Ohio judge in 2007 sentenced Jess R. Brown to 16 1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to his 19th and 20th DUI offences, the maximum allowed by state law. The judge said it was the worst DUI record she’d ever seen.Brown apparently pleaded for leniency, saying he needed treatment, not punishment. But the judge said Brown, whose first DUI conviction was in 1977, had plenty of chances to seek help.

    Russia

    In hindsight, Russian diplomat Andrei Knyazev, on staff at the embassy in Ottawa, might have been better off waiving his diplomatic immunity after his car jumped a curb and killed lawyer Catherine MacLean and seriously injured a friend as they walked MacLean’s dog in January 2001.Knyazev, who had two previous run-ins with Ottawa police over impaired driving, hid behind his diplomatic status, backed by the Russian government, and was expelled from Canada.But Russian authorities followed through on assurances Knyazev would be prosecuted at home, and he was handed a four-year sentence in a Siberian penal camp, just short of the five-year maximum under Russian law.

    United Arab Emirates

    There’s an official zero-tolerance for alcohol consumption of any kind in many Middle Eastern countries, in accordance with Muslim Sharia law, but it’s sometimes tolerated, especially among foreigners.However, the penalty for getting caught can hurt more than your wallet.In the relatively moderate Emirates last summer, an Abu Dhabi man was sentenced to 80 lashes and fined more than $7,000 US after he tested positive for alcohol following a traffic accident.According to an Agence France Press report, the Emirates allow only licensed non-Muslims to drink but licensed hotels and clubs are open to anyone. However, police won’t tolerate drinking and driving.

    United Kingdom

    OK, this doesn’t really rank with going to Siberia or getting flogged, but it seems a bit draconian. Forty-year-old Paul Hutton was issued a three-year driving ban and a conditional discharge after police pulled him over for driving a toy Barbie car whilst intoxicated.In something out of a Monty Python sketch, the Daily Mail says Hutton was pulled over driving the battery-operated toy car in the town of Clacton-on-Sea last March.Hutton, who’d rescued the pink and white Jeep — top speed four miles per hour — from a dump, had a booze-fueled impulse to drive it to a friend’s home 500 yards away. Police spotted the six-foot-tall engineer folded into the four-foot-long car and pulled him over.”When I tried talk I realized how drunk I was,” Hutton is quoted in a Mail Online report. Hutton blew at more than twice the legal limit.Oh, and the car was impounded.

    China

    China has a reputation for dealing severely with lawbreakers but even its justice system balked at giving a drunk driver the death penalty.Sun Weiming was sentenced last year to be executed for killing four people and injuring another after the unlicensed driver hit four other vehicles in Chengdu. The Associated Press reported the sentence came during a nationwide crackdown against drunk drivers.An appeals court overturned the death penalty and sentenced Sun to life imprisonment instead.The AP report noted that although China has a low threshold for impairment – .02 compared with .08 in Canada – enforcement of has been lax, with police often bribed to let charges slide. But media coverage of a series of drunk-driving cases sparked a public outcry that triggered the crackdown.

    Canada

    Jail sentences for impaired driving are rare in Canada, generally only when death is involved, but case of Rob Ramage stands out.The former captain of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs was given a four-year federal prison term by an Ontario court for a drunk-driving accident that killed his passenger, Chicago Black Hawks’ star Keith Magnuson in 2003.Ramage fought the conviction and sentence out of his 2007 trial but the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld both last July and Ramage began serving his sentence.Magnuson’s family also won a $9.5-million wrongful death suit in a U.S. court against Ramage and the car-rental company whose vehicle he was driving.

     

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