The Battambang provincial court on February 22 charged and detained 16 drivers of cars and heavy trucks after police stopped them on the night of February 20 while they were driving in the province.
Sok Nimol, head of the anti-drug bureau in Battambang province, said on February 23 that a provincial judge had issued a warrant for their detention after a prosecutor had charged them with driving under the influence of an addictive substance under Article 63 of the Drug Control Law.
If they are convicted of this crime they may be jailed for a period of one month to one year and fined 100,000 to two million riel (US$25-$500).
If any of the drivers had injured anyone while driving under the influence they could then be sentenced for a period of two years to five years in prison and fined four million riel to 10 million riel.
“Driving under the influence of drug causes a very high risk to everyone on the road because when [alcohol or drugs] enters their bodies they are so preoccupied with having a good time that they forget to drive carefully. If they were bus drivers this would be extremely dangerous,” he said.
He added that police forces from the traffic bureau and from the anti-drug bureau had worked together to carry out this operation.
The traffic police determined whether the drivers were going over the speed limit and tested the driver’s for use of alcohol. If any drivers tested positive for other addictive substances the police would then send them to the anti-drug bureau to build a case file for referral to court.
Nimol continued that last year his police hadn’t detained and sent drivers under the influence of drugs to court because previously they had just educated them about how dangerous it was or sent them to drug rehabilitation centres and that they had observed that many of these drivers had left the rehab centres and didn’t learn their lesson from it.
He further stated that the majority of traffic accidents were caused by drivers who seemed to make a habit out of driving while impaired and so the police were taking new measures to build case files for these offenders for referral to court.
Similarly, Chan Sophy, the head of the traffic bureau in Battambang, also noted that in the past the police had just detained and sent drivers under the influence of drugs to drug rehabilitation centres, but upon return they had continued to cause traffic accidents.
Concerning the case, Y Sokha, the deputy police chief in charge of traffic in Preah Sihanouk province, said on February 23 that Preah Sihanouk routinely stopped and detained drivers under the influence of alcohol and that when the police determine that someone has been driving under the influence of an addictive substance they must be sent to court.
“Persons under the influence of alcohol that cause traffic accidents must be sent to court as per procedure and drivers under the influence of drugs must be sent to court as well,” he said.