Common Driving Offences and their Punishments
A key legislation which proscribes dangerous driving behaviour in Singapore is the Road Traffic Act (“RTA”). This legislation regulates the conduct of road users and the use of vehicles in Singapore.
In this article, we will look at some common driving offences and their prescribed punishments.
Reckless or dangerous driving
Section 64(1) of the RTA states that:
If any person drives a motor vehicle on a road recklessly, or at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the nature, condition, and use of the road, and the amount of traffic which is actually at the time, or which might reasonably be expected to be, on the road, the person (called the offender) shall be guilty of an offence.
The punishment for reckless or dangerous driving varies depending on whether or not hurt was caused in the course of the incident. In relation to first-time offenders:
- If death was caused, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years and not more than 8 years.
- If grievous hurt was caused, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than 5 years.
- If hurt was caused, the offender shall be punished with a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.
- If any other case, the offender shall be punished with a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
In determining whether or not an imprisonment term ought to be imposed, the Courts will consider the level of harm caused and the offender’s culpability, as well as the applicable mitigating and aggravating factors.
The Courts can also disqualify drivers from holding or obtaining a driver’s license for a period of time, the length of such disqualification period will be commensurate with the severity of the offence.
Use of mobile communication device while driving
All drivers ought to be aware that it may be an offence to use a mobile phone while operating a vehicle.
Section 65B(1) of the RTA states that:
- A driver of a vehicle who holds in his hand a mobile communication device and operates any of its communicative or other functions, while the vehicle is in motion on a road or in a public place is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
Meanwhile, repeat offenders may be liable to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs
Section 67(1) of the RTA states that:
- Any person who, when driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place —
- is unfit to drive in that he is under the influence of drink or of a drug or an intoxicating substance to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of such vehicle; or
- has so much alcohol in his body that the proportion of it in his breath or blood exceeds the prescribed limit,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $20,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.
In a High Court case, our Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon laid down the following helpful sentencing guidelines with regard to Section 67(1)(b) offences:
|Level of alcohol (µg per 100ml of breath)||Range of fines||Range of disqualification|
|35 – 54 (1–1.54 times the prescribed limit)||$1,000 – $2,000||12 – 18 months|
|55 – 69 (1.57–1.97 times the prescribed limit)||$2,000 – $3,000||18 – 24 months|
|70 – 89 (2–2.54 times the prescribed limit)||$3,000 – $4,000||24 – 36 months|
|≥ 90 (≥ 2.57 times the prescribed limit)||> $4,000||36 – 48 months (or longer)|
The figures set out in the above table are based on the use of a breathalyser test, as opposed to a blood test, to determine the level of alcohol in the offender’s body.
Other common offences
Some other common offences include driving without a proper license under Section 35 of the RTA and driving without due care or reasonable consideration under Section 65 of the RTA.
What can you do if you are facing an offence under the RTA
You may contact our experienced criminal lawyers. We can assist you in the plea-bargaining process as well as to mitigate for a lower jail term, a lower fine or a shorter period of disqualification.