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Sun 24 Feb 2008 11:20 AM

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UAE drivers face harsh new penalties

Motorists caught driving under influence of alcohol to be fined more than $5,000 and jailed, official says.

UAE drivers face harsh new penalties
NEW LAWS: Drink-driving motorists face harsher penalties under new UAE federal traffic laws. (Getty Images)

Drink-driving motorists face harsher penalties, including heavy fines and imprisonment, under new UAE federal traffic laws to be introduced on March 1, a traffic official warned on Saturday.

Ghaith Hassan Al Zaabi, director of the Traffic Department at the Ministry of Interior, said motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol will be fined at least 20,000 dirhams ($5,446), and jailed, UAE daily Khaleej Times reported on Sunday.

The length of the prison term was not disclosed by the newspaper.

The same heavy penalty will apply to motorists who leave the scene of an accident, while motorists who drive without a licence face a fine of up to 5,000 dirhams and a prison term of up to three months.

The stricter penalties follow news that 1,053 people were killed in UAE road accidents during 2007, compared to 868 deaths due to accidents in 2006.

Recent figures released by the Ministry of Interior show that there were 6,813 accidents on UAE roads during 2007, resulting in 10,526 injuries.

According to government statistics, one person is injured on the UAE roads every two hours, with one fatal injury every fifteen hours.

Under the amended UAE federal traffic law, people caught driving after being ordered not to, due to prior violations, will have to pay a fine of 5,000 dirhams or serve a three-month jail.

Al Zaabi said people who supply false information to police to avoid traffic charges will be fined up to 5,000 dirhams, or receive a three-month jail term.

The law also states that vehicles must be technically examined and certified upon registration, or renewal of registration.

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semeen ghazi 12 years ago

Excellent news .. it was long overdue - despite the fact that UAE has excellent roads and traffic system, it has one of the highest rates of accidents. This is due to the fact that people dont care two hoots for the other drivers, changing lanes without signals, driving at break neck speed, popping up in front of the car without any indication, jumping red lights, talking on the phone are some of the common mistakes made by people.. everyone it seems is in a hurry ! In these days of inflation, when prices of everything from rent to food is skyrocketing and people are finding it difficult to make ends meet another jolt in the form of harsher penalities and heavy fines will open the eyes of people who have no road sense and endanger the life of not only their own self but also others who are law abiding. When people will part with their money will they realise the graveness of the situation and will hopefully become more careful on the road. Stiffer penalties and severe punishment like confiscation of the license will only work ! The harsher the fines, the better it will be ! Nothing less will work !. The government of Dubai tried its best by educating people by holding traffic weeks, lectures, seminars, publicity on the radio ... even rewarding cautious drivers. BUT nothing it seems has worked ... so here you go... a single dirham gone from one's own pocket will make people think twice as to whether he should violate the rules or drive safely. Semeen

mike 12 years ago

Look at the picture accompanying the article - at least one idiot driving in the hard shoulder. There's one of your reasons for the problem. Drink driving is bad but it is relatively rare unlike the myriad other things which the UAE police appear to unbothered by.

Chris 12 years ago

Improving public transport and making sufficient taxis available will help more people make the choice not to drink and drive. At weekends it is extremely difficult to get a taxi to collect you from home, usually requiring 15 minutes to finally get through to the reservation center and then more than an hour's wait, that is if they actually accept the booking!

Chris 12 years ago

Improving public transport and making sufficient taxis available will help more people make the choice not to drink and drive. At weekends it is extremely difficult to get a taxi to collect you from home, usually requiring 15 minutes to finally get through to the reservation center and then more than an hour's wait, that is if they actually accept the booking!

Pardi 12 years ago

I welcome this move and hope that good sense will prevail on violators. I feel more publicity is needed through billboards alongside the main roads to keep people reminding about consequences of such violations.

sridharan rajan 12 years ago

Good news. Hefty fines and even vehicle confiscation will really help.

Louie Tedesco 12 years ago

With the constant focus on road safety, I suggest having a reporter contact the authorities in order to update a topic which seriously endangers everybody in the UAE - "Why are dark-tinted vehicles still tolerated on Dubai roads in 2008, despite long-standing laws which prohibit a tint level above 30%?" It is known that dark tinted vehicle windows are dangerous, which is why no manufacturer produces any vehicle with the windshield or front passenger seat windows tinted darkly. An even greater hazard is reflective window tinting having a "mirror effect" from which reflections can blind nearby drivers during bright, sunny conditions. While hindering the vision of vehicle occupants, especially at night, other drivers cannot maintain eye contact with the drivers of dark tinted vehicles nor can developing or dangerous traffic situations be seen through the dark cabin. Illegal activities such as the transport of weapons, contraband or dangerous wild animals cannot be seen from the outside of dark tinted vehicles, which could be deadly for Police and bystanders whenever a roadside check is conducted or such vehicles are involved in traffic accidents. Related to this article - yes, drunk drivers can go unobserved sitting in their darkened cockpit, during the day or at night. Vehicles in Dubai pass through the annual registration inspection in full view of Police despite obvious illegal levels of window tinting. Why do Police not require owners to remove illegal tinting before the vehicle registration is renewed? Shopping Mall parking lots are full with many dark tinted vehicles. Why do Police not visit such locations, issue fines and impound vehicles? If legal exceptions to the vehicle tinting law are allowed, where is this policy published so the tinting exceptions are accessible to the entire population? Until the most basic common sense road safety measures are enforced, no improvement will be made. When certain members of the population remain exempt from the law, the acts and actions of these people will be copied by others.

glory 12 years ago

Drink driving would be low on the list of traffic violations one experiences every day on UAE roads. It is all very well to announce higher penalties, but when one sees people flouting the existing laws every day and not being penalised the root of the cause appears to be the lack of follow-up and implementation of the set penalties. 90% of the problem in traffic results from people who have no patience to wait in line for their turn to enter a lane way closure or narrowing ( Al Mulla Plaza tunnel/ Al Gharood Bridge entrance etc) - causing those who do the right thing to wait while 20 odd cars proceed ahead of them out of turn; or people who flash past you either side of a lane having a race - with no thought to the people who have to brake sharply to avoid a collision with them. No indicators when turning, taxis and cars who double park causing lane disruption, buses in the fast lane, drivers who sit on 40 kms per hour on the freeway or in the 80 km zone, people flashing drivers who are caught in traffic snarls but doing the 120 km top speed allowed, speeding,children as young as 14/15 without licences driving cars with the knowledge of their parents - taking sisters and mothers shopping. All of these are the problem. Address these issues and a good percentage of traffic woes would disappear. Lack of basic road courtesy is the root problem here. If people got in their right lanes the flow of traffic would be smoother - when the World Banking conference was here and the police were monitoring the roads to ensure this happened the traffic flow was not the nightmare it is each and every day for the regular law-abiding motorist. Fining them is not the answer - taking their cars off them and banning them from driving would be better.

Anonymous 12 years ago

We bought a 2 year old vehicle in two tone colour 3 months ago from a large dealership. We had it registered without issues. It has undergone general service at the dealers & not once has anyone mentioned it is illegal to have a two tone vehicle until we were pulled over this morning & fined because it is . Is having a two tone vehicle illegal? If so, then why was the dealer allowed to make the sale? Therefor the dealer should be fined.