Can't find something? Search Here.

Man Sentenced to Death for Drunk Driving Fatalities

Posted in Drunk Driving

For the first time, a man has been sentenced to death for driving drunk. In Sichuan, China, a 30-year-old man was given the death penalty for killing four people and seriously injuring another while driving under the influence of alcohol. Sun Weiming was also driving without a license and fled the scene of the accident.

Until this verdict, drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes usually faced a maximum of seven years in prison. Sun was charged with endangering public safety, however, which carries the possibility of execution.

This sentence could act as a precedent in a case of another drunk driver that is expected to come before the court soon in Nanjing. Zhang Mingbao is charged with killing five people, including a pregnant woman, while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Despite the fact that courts in China often dole out death sentences for non-violent economic crimes, experts were somewhat shocked at Sun’s sentence. According to Amnesty International, China executed at least 1,718 people in 2008, accounting for 72 percent of the worldwide total.

Wang Zuofu, a deputy director at the Beijing Law Society, told China Daily, “We encourage cracking down on (drunk) driving as it has become increasingly serious in cities, but that does not mean we should resort to the death sentence.”

Rising alcohol consumption and increased car ownership are taking a toll in China, especially in urban centers. As of the end of June, there were 69.6 million cars on the road, up almost 14 percent from the same time last year.

According to the Ministry of Public Service, 29,866 people died in traffic accidents across China in the first half of 2009 and 130,000 were injured. There is no indication of how many of those involved drunk driving, but last week the Chinese media reported on the rapidly increasing problem of drinking among government officials.

“Drinking with official guests or other officials at alcohol-soaked events is considered part of the job,” Peking University professor Li Chengyan told China Daily.

In China, drunk driving is defined as having 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. Sun, who had been drinking heavily at a family lunch, tested at 135.8 milligrams of alcohol, almost 75 percent over the legal limit.