Bahrain steps up traffic penalties
Manama, June 5, 2013
Motorists in Bahrain could soon face tough new punishments as part of attempts to cut deaths and serious injuries on the kingdom’s roads, according to a new approved unanimously by the MPs.
Some fines have been quadrupled as the government seeks to crack down on people who put the safety of other road users, passengers and pedestrians at risk, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The law, which had been pending for five years, has now been referred to the Shura Council for revision and, if approved, would replace existing legislation that dates back 34 years.
MPs also threw out an article that would only grant driving licences to expatriates whose wages were above BD500 ($1,318).
However, they replaced it with one that obliges the Interior Ministry to come up with a list of expatriates eligible for driving licences within new by-laws that will be issued later.
"We have to think about people's lives and safety and not fines or jail terms being doubled, tripled or quadrupled," said parliament foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Abdulrahman Bumajeed.
"The law has been under study for five years and we have to consider that the existing law was introduced 34 years ago and doesn't mention racing, excessive speeding or chatting on WhatsApp while driving.
"I am aware that the law will be issued by the end of this year or early next year, but it has been stalled enough especially with nonsense and reckless driving increasing on the streets without proper punishments matching offences.
"Many break the law knowing that they will be fined BD5 or BD10 or a maximum of BD50 and anyone can see people jumping red lights or waiting in yellow boxes to clearly see what I am saying is true in that we need this law in a bid to tackle ongoing violations,” he added.
Bumajeed said the article barring some expatriates from getting driving licences aimed to crackdown on those issued to people who do not need them.
"For example, construction workers getting a licence while they are being offered transportation through a bus from and to their work and then buy a vehicle alongside their other colleagues to offer taxi services part-time," he said.
"We have no intention of barring expatriates from driving. This new article is just to organise things better."
The bill has been with parliament since 2008 due to claims that allowing the government the right to come up with fixed penalties could breach Bahrain's constitution. But the Constitutional Court ruled in April it was acceptable on condition it did not suppress people's human and political rights.
Stringent new punishments
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, jumping a red light, using mobile phone while driving, taking part in street races, disregarding traffic signs, using devices that detect or distort speed monitoring machines, carrying too many passengers or allowing people without a licence to drive their vehicles will face up to six months in jail and fines of BD50-BD500.
Those who do so and cause death or injury or damage public or private property could be sent to jail for three to 12 months and fined between BD1,000-BD3,000 or both.
The sentence for jumping red lights double if it is repeated within 12 months.
Drivers who exceed speed limits by more than 30 per cent will be punished with three months in jail, fined between BD50-BD250, or both.
If the speed exceeds that then the punishment could be up to six months in jail, a fine of BD100-BD500 or both. if their action leads to death, injury or damage then they will face no less than three months in jail and a minimum fine of BD1,000 or both.
Speed limit punishments will double if repeated within 12 months.
People who alter their number plate or drive without them will face up to six months in jail, a fine of between BD200-BD500 or both.
Consuming alcohol or drugs while driving on the road will be punishable with up to six months in jail, a fine between BD500-BD1,000, or both.
If the motorists also violate traffic regulations then the sentence will be up to two years in jail, a fine between BD1,000-BD2,000 or both.
Any motorists who causes accidental death or injury could have their licence suspended for up to three months and if the driver has less than three years’ experience then they will have to re-sit their driving test.
Underage drivers will have their licence delayed by six months and anyone who repeats the offence while banned from driving will be disqualified for three years.
Tough new punishments for motorists include fines of between BD20 to BD100 for those who obstruct the flow of traffic, are caught carrying passengers inappropriately, driving with broken lights, using full beam unnecessarily or parking on the road without using hazard lights. – TradeArabia News Service