Drunk Driving Penalties in Malaysia

Drunk driving is a contributor road trauma in Malaysia. No matter where you are in Malaysia, drunk driving is treated as a serious offence and any person who is found to be operating a vehicle over the legal limit, may face penalties ranging from the suspension, disqualification or cancellation of their licence, fines, or imprisonment for more serious drink driving offences.

In all states of Malaysia, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers is below 0.08. In addition to that, it’s also an offence for a person to refuse to undergo a breathalyzer test for either alcohol or drugs if requested by the police.

The sad reality is that a significant amount of road deaths in Malaysia is caused by drunk driving, so it is essential that the penalties reflect the gravity of the offence. As AskLegal puts it, “According to a study done by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, about 23.3% of drivers in fatal accidents were tested positive for alcohol, according to this study done in 2012. A drunk driver is 13 times more likely to cause an accident.”

According to section 43 of the The Road Transport Act 1987, it states that a person who drives “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for another persons using the road” is considered guilty of an offence. According to this section, drunk driving is punishable, and if offenders are found guilty, they can expect to pay a fine of up to RM 10,000 and a maximum period of imprisonment of 12 months.

Basically, if you operate a motor vehicle in any public place when you’re intoxicated to the point where you are unable to control your motor vehicle, or your BAC levels exceed the legal limits, you commit an offence under section 44. The section is worded in such a way that you’ll be guilty whether you’re drunk and driving, or you don’t appear to be drunk, but your BAC exceeds the legal limit. Upon conviction under section 44 the offender has to pay a fine of not less than RM 8,000, up to a maximum of RM 20,000 and jail time of a minimum of 3 years. 

Did you also know that one doesn’t need to be driving the actual vehicle to fall into trouble with the authorities? According to section 45 and 45A of the Road Transport Act 1987, you can commit an offence just by being in your vehicle if your BAC levels are too high.

Remember that alcohol impairs one’s ability to control a vehicle. Research suggests that at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, the risk of being involved in a traffic crash is double that of a person who has not been drinking at all.

There’s no absolute safe level of alcohol consumption for competent driving. Even after a few drinks, your driving ability is affected. The more you drink, the higher your blood alcohol concentration, and the greater your chance of having an accident.