PHUKET: Drivers indulging too liberally in festive spirit or otherwise driving dangerously face severe penalties this holiday season with the harshest punishments reserved for crimes committed over the critical December 28 – January 4 period. Drunk drivers could receive fines of up to 10,000 baht, three months in jail, or both, and all road users involved in collisions will also be tested for alcohol. Police officers will be equipped with breathalyzers and are empowered to demand samples from any motorist on two, three or more wheels. Anyone found with more than 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliters of exhaled air – on a world scale, a fairly generous amount – will be arrested. Street-racers – car or motorcycle – will face fines of up to 10,000 baht and risk being disqualified from driving for a month, or even permanently. Drivers were advised to carry their licenses at all times; not being able to produce one on request will result in a 1,000-baht fine and possibly a month in jail. No ceiling was put on the number of passengers permitted on a motorcycle but riders and passengers each face a 500-baht fine if found riding without helmets. Similarly, car drivers and front-seat passengers may be fined 500 baht for not wearing seatbelts. A spokesperson for the Phuket Public Relations Office, announcing these penalties today, told the Gazette that the police were under instructions to press for the maximum penalty in all cases.
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