View attachment 14666 A taxi driver who drove while under the influence of drugs just 18 days after being bailed on another drug-driving charge has been jailed for 18 months. Chan Hon-hoi, 29, who had 40 previous traffic convictions, yesterday also had his license suspended for two years and was ordered to take a driving improvement course.
In addition, a two-week suspended sentence he was given for a previous drug offense was added to his term of imprisonment. District Court Judge Stephen John Geiser said Chan had an "extremely poor traffic record" and was putting public safety at risk. He had three previous convictions for the possession of dangerous drugs, the court heard.
Chan had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of driving under the influence of drugs as well as two counts of possessing dangerous drugs.
On January 20 this year, three passengers boarded his taxi at Hung Hom railway station.
After stopping suddenly at a green light and then at a red one later on, the two backseat passengers became scared and got out when Chan stopped near Whampoa Garden in Hung Hom.
However, when the front-seat female passenger handed Chan a HK$100 note and opened the door to alight, he drove off, forcing the terrified woman to jump from the moving taxi.
He continued driving for a short distance before crashing into a railing.
When police arrived, Chan admitted taking ketamine the night before, and tests showed his blood contained 0.47 micrograms of the d
rug per 100 milliliters.
Chan had been arrested on January 2 for driving his taxi into a lamppost on Beacon Hill Road in Kowloon Tong.
There were no passengers in the vehicle at the time, but Chan was trapped in the driver's seat.
He was later conveyed to hospital and found to have taken drugs.
Chan was released on police bail pending further inquiries.
Legislator-cum-barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah said it appeared Judge Geiser had been too lenient in suspending Chan's driving license for two years.
"Considering that Chan is a taxi driver and was found driving under the influence of drugs, I think it would not be too harsh for the judge to suspend his license for a longer period or even permanently," Tong said.
In response to the sentence, the Transport and Housing Bureau said the government is now studying overseas models on how to identify drivers who have taken drugs and increasing penalties may be an option.
Separately, a 23-year-old truck driver was arrested for drug- driving early yesterday. He was stopped on Fan Kam Road in Fan Ling at around 5.30am.
Police said the driver had been acting suspiciously and there were traces of white powder around his nose.
Officers later found two grams of ketamine in his vehicle.
The driver was later charged with drug-driving and possession of a dangerous drug.
He was detained by police overnight for questioning.
Under the Road Traffic Ordinance, those who drive under the influence of drink or drugs can face a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and three years in jail.
Patsy Moy | Friday, May 14, 2010