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Half of drunk drivers in crashes

HALF the suspected drunk drivers stopped since the beginning of last month were involved in accidents, Shanghai traffic police said yesterday. Collisions with other vehicles or an object left at least 10 people injured. Police have intensified patrols around the city since May 1, when China passed a law which for the first time can see a drunk driving offence result in a prison sentence. Shanghai police said because of the clampdown, which was widely reported in the media, drivers have been less likely to get behind the wheel after drinking. Officers said this is reflected in figures. In China there are two offences involving driving after consuming alcohol. Drunk driving and the less serious offence of driving after drinking, where the level of alcohol is lower. Between May 1 and June 20, police stopped 285 suspected drunk drivers, down 74 percent on a year earlier. In the same period they stopped 1,796 people suspected of driving after drinking, which was a reduction of 64 percent on the same period in 2010. Earlier this month, the city's first drunk driver caught since the clampdown was jailed for three months for dangerous driving. On May 1, Xu Huaxing, 36, hit the rear of a van in Songjiang District, slightly injuring six people. As well as being jailed, he was fined 2,000 yuan (US$309) - in addition to the 73,000 yuan he paid in compensation to the victims. In another case, a driver, surnamed Hou, was sentenced to four and a half months behind bars. Hou was caught driving an unlicensed vehicle while drunk at 1:20am on May 4, shortly after leaving a pub in Jing'an District. When asked by police to pull over, he sped off, crashing into a police car and causing major damage. Hou lost his driving license after being convicted of drunk driving in February last year, police said. He was also ruled to pay 3,000 yuan to cover damage to the police car. Police said since the clampdown, 20 percent of suspected drunk drivers have been caught on downtown streets while the rest have been stopped in suburban dist! ricts, m ost frequently in Songjiang and Fengxian districts.

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