Malawians have called on the Government to consider reviewing Road Traffic Regulations and hike the K200,000 penalty for those caught drunk-driving.
The K200,000 fine for drink-driving offence exists to protect lives of road users because many road accidents have happened due to reckless driving as a result of driving whilst intoxicated.
Despite some people raising concerns about this fine considering the economic challenges people in the country are facing, there are people who think the fine is necessary and should be hiked.
“The idea of a penalty is to discourage crime, so why should it be made affordable? That’s like saying let’s make crime affordable to commit and get away with,” said one commentator on Facebook.
Another person said: “Drunk driving is a risk to the driver and other road users. K500,000 upward plus revoke the driver’s license for a year.”
The view was shared by another Facebook user who said: “In fact it is at the lower side. Raise it to 500000.The consequences that arise due to such acts does not correspond to the fine in place.”
However, some people feel that people caught drunk driving can also be punished through other measures such as banning them from driving or
Businesspersons have also expressed worry that the fine is suffocating their businesses.
Mathambo Lowole, the owner of Sunnyside Lounge in Blantyre, said that the number of people showing up at his lounge has decreased as people are scared to drink because of the fine and as a result business has gone down.
However, Road Safety Experts fear that if the fine is reduced people will take this as an encouragement to continue drunk-driving.
In Malawi, drivers found drunk face penalties ranging from K20,000 for drivers with at most 0.1g/210ml to K200,000 or three years in prison for drivers found drunk above 0.2g/210ml (breath).
Texting or speaking on the phone while driving leads to a K10,000 fine, while exceeding speed limit attracts penalties ranging from K10,000 to K40,000 which is also the same range for offences of exceeding seating capacity.