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March 6, 2013

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Drugged driver going to jail for injuring cop

IN the first case of its kind in Shanghai, an addict who drove after taking drugs was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday for injuring a police officer who stopped his car, the Changning District People's Court ruled.

The case was unusual because the current Chinese Criminal Law has no specific penalty for driving on drugs. Chen Zhe instead was convicted of intentional injury.

Prosecutors said Chen was driving on Jianhe Road near Hongqiao Road when he was stopped by a police officer for a road check at 6:20pm on October 12. Chen refused to get out because he just took drugs and was afraid of punishment.

He gunned the engine and reversed his car suddenly as the officer was opening the car door. The officer was pulled for a distance and was thrown when Chen hit another car, prosecutors said.

The policeman, who was not identified, had several fractures.

Chen abandoned his car and fled by taxi. He was caught the same day.

At yesterday's hearing, Chen admitted all the accusations. But prosecutors and Chen's defending lawyer had a heated discussion over Chen's penalty since the law does not have specific clauses for driving on drugs.

The court heard Chen had been sentenced to two years in prison with a two-year reprieve for extortion in 1995. He was also sent to a drug rehabilitation center for compulsory detoxification and to a labor camp for reform through reeducation.

Prosecutors said Chen should take full responsibility for the incident, which caused injuries and property damage of over 50,000 yuan (US$8,032).

He could be charged only with intentional injury because the case didn't meet the standards of the crimes of causing a traffic accident or dangerous driving.

"In China, drugged driving is an unlawful act but doesn't constitute a crime," said the prosecutor. "But the fact is that Chen injured a policeman."

Chen's lawyer argued Chen confessed fully and should be given a reprieve of the sentence.

The prosecutors said that wasn't possible since Chen's violent actions injured an officer and he hit another car.

Suspects charged with intentional injury could face up to the death penalty, according to the law.


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