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Harsher penalties for drunk drivers in the works

By George Psyllides

Drivers who cause a death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or because of speeding could face longer prison time as authorities consider the introduction of stiffer sentences.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said such offences would be punished with a prison term of up to 10 years instead of the current four provided under Article 210 of the Penal Code.

The issue was discussed by the House Legal Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

It comes in the wake of an incident in October last year in which a 25-year-old Limassol man was killed after a driver slammed violently into the back of his car, stationary at a red light on Enaerios.

Test results showed that the 48-year-old suspect had been driving under the influence of cocaine, cannabis, and alcohol.

He had no valid driver’s licence and has another case pending against him for speeding.

The man has been charged with manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of life in jail, and causing death through a thoughtless, reckless or dangerous act or conduct (Article 210).

Attorney-general Costas Clerides told MPs that it would be best to wait for the trial before the Criminal Court to finish and then amend the law.

Clerides said the penalties for causing death due to reckless driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

He said such cases could be brought before the Criminal Court, which, unlike district courts, can impose jail sentences of over five years.

Deputy committee chairman, DISY MP Rikkos Mappourides, said they have decided on an action plan that included raising the penalty provided for in Article 210 and also adding causing grievous bodily harm.

AKEL MP Aristos Damianou said legislation must adjust to the needs of the times.

“For this reason we are seriously contemplating introducing additional provisions that on one hand make penalties for causing death through dangerous or reckless behaviour – including driving of course — stricter, but at the same time … we are looking into the possibility of creating new offences to cover the gap in our legislation,” he said.



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