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September 2, 2009

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Rich areas drunk-driver havens

SHANGHAI and four other economically developed areas in China exhibited the worst problem with drunk drivers during an ongoing nationwide campaign to stop people from getting behind the wheel while tipsy.

The two-month campaign that began on August 15 had netted 28,800 motorists who were driving under the influence of alcohol as of Friday. More than 15 percent registered blood-alcohol content above 0.08 percent. Offenders in that range face 15 days of detention, lose their license for three months to six months and are fined between 500 yuan (US$73) and 2,000 yuan.

Those with a blood-alcohol content between 0.02 percent and 0.08 percent will have their licenses suspended for one to three months and are fined up to 500 yuan (US$73).

Police data revealed that the top-five trouble spots were Zhejiang and Shandong provinces, Shanghai, Jiangsu Province and Beijing, in that order.

On the first two days of the campaign, officers nationwide seized 3,167 offenders, including 435 drivers whose blood-alcohol content was in the higher range. The number of offenders dropped almost 6 percent the following week after motorists became more aware of the campaign.

Among all the drunk drivers nationwide, 97 percent were behind the wheel of private vehicles and 98 percent were men.

Shenzhen police said all the offenders they seized were young or middle-aged men, and 60 percent of them were well educated.

More than 80 percent of the drunk drivers jailed at a Beijing detention center were private entrepreneurs between 35 and 45 years old, the Beijing-based Legal Evening News reported yesterday. In the capital, most offenders were caught between 11pm and 2am around the city's bar and restaurant streets.

The national blitz on driving under the influence was sparked by an increase in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

Thirty-two people were killed in traffic accidents that involved the use of alcohol from August 15 to August 22.


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