Public shows awareness of drunken-driving consequences

Updated: 2013-05-06 21:23


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The number of drunken driving cases has dropped dramatically in China since the country amended the law to criminalize drunken driving in 2011. This indicates an improved public awareness of the consequences of a drunken-driving conviction, says an editorial in People's Daily. Excerpts:

Statistics from the Ministry of Public Security show that the cases of driving under the influence of alcohol have decreased by 39.3 percent over the past two years, compared with 2009-11. Police have recently handled 122,000 drunken driving cases, a 42.7 decrease from 2009-11.

Chinese motorists today are more aware that they should not drive after drinking. However, a heated debate arose two years ago over the imposition of harsher penalties for drunken driving. Opponents insisted that drunken driving should be curbed step by step, and criminalizing the behavior would only terrify the public instead of helping improve people’s awareness.

Likewise, two years later, another debate is going on amid the national crackdown and imposition of fines on jaywalking, or thronging together to cross the road against red lights.

The truth is punishment is a means but not an end. The ultimate goal of criminalizing drunken driving or imposing fine for jaywalking is to improve civil awareness, and the key lies in strict and just law enforcement. Selective law enforcement that enables some perpetrators to go unpunished will not be much of a deterrent. As the well-known criminal jurist Cesare Beccaria suggested, it is not the severity, but the inevitability of punishment that prevents crimes.