How Strict Are Malaysia’s DUI Laws Compared To Other Countries


How Strict Are Malaysia’s DUI Laws Compared To Other Countries

With an alarming number of deaths – not just of drivers but innocent people on the roads – there’s been a lot of public outcry for stricter punishments in Malaysia with regards to drunk driving.

In January 2020, the then Transport Minister Anthony Loke had announced amendments of Sections 41, 44 and 45 of the road Road Transport Act 1987 for more severe penalties than that of the current Section 41(1) code. Which, if found guilty for driving under the influence (DUI), a person may be fined not less than RM5,000 to a maximum of RM20,000, and serve jail time of 2 years and not exceeding 10 years.

Yesterday, we took a deep dive into the what’s what of DUI offences in Malaysia.

Just to recap, the legal limits of consumption as prescribed in Section 45 (G) of the road transport act.

  • 35 microgrammes (μg) of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath (measured using a breathalyzer)
  • 80 milligrammes(mg) of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (0.08% Blood Alcohol Content - BAC); or
  • 107 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine.

As a continuation of the topic, we thought it’d be wise to look at our current DUI laws and punishments and how they compare to DUI laws in other countries.


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Singapore has roughly the same Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) legal limits as Malaysia, and they too have a law to arrest without warrant if the offender refuses to provide a breath sample when requested. As for the penalties:

  • Fine of between SGD2,000 and SGD10,000 and/or up to 1 year’s jail for first-time offenders. At least 2-year driving ban.
  • Fine of not less than SGD5,000 and SGD20,000 and/or up to 2 year’s jail time for repeat offenders. At least 5-year driving ban.

The maximum penalty that can be imposed for causing death or grievous hurt with dangerous/careless driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol:

  • 10-years imprisonment (8 years for dangerous driving + 2 years for DUI). Driving ban of up to 5 years. This if for a first time offender.
  • The sentence can be doubled on all counts for repeat offenders.

The Singapore government is also mulling stiffer punishments for driving under the license disqualification, which will also include fines and up to 3-years jail time.


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Australia's laws regarding DUI cases are slightly more layered depending on the jurisdictions in which the crime is committed. Punishments are also levied based on the content of BAC at the time of testing and punishment can range from fines to jail time, and include license disqualification and even include the installation of an alcohol-interlocking device for your vehicle, which will not let you start the vehicle unless your breath sample is under legal limits. The state of Victoria has some of the strictest punishments surround DUI cases.

As for causing grievous bodily harm or death, the long arm of the law can impose the following punishments:

  • Jail term of between 7 and 14 years for DUI and causing grievous bodily harm.
  • Jail term of between 10 and 20 years for DUI and causing death.


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Japan is another country that is moving towards a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving, however, given the penalties already enacted, one would imagine punishments are severe as it is. Japan employs progressive levels of punishments depending on the BAC content of the offender during the police test. The unit they use in Japan to measure toxicity is a milligramme of alcohol per 1-litre of the breath sample.

  • Over 0.15mg but less than 0.25mg – jail time (with work) for a maximum of 3 years, a maximum fine of JPY500,000 (RM20,264), license revoked for 90 days, 13 demerit points to license.
  • Over 0.25mg – jail time (with work) for a maximum of 5 years, a maximum fine of JPY1,000,000 (RM40,528), license revoked for at least 2 years, 25 demerit points to license.  

As for causing serious injury or death to others, while driving under the influence:

  • A maximum jail term of 15 years for causing serious injury.
  • A maximum jail term of 20 years for causing death.

Japan also penalises persons that ride in a car with a drunk driver at the wheel.


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Taiwan is said to have some of the toughest laws and punishments in the world for DUI offences. For one, it employs a lower legal BAC limit of 0.05%, which is lower than that of Malaysia. As for punishments for a DUI:

  • Maximum jail time of 2 years, fine of NT$200,000 (RM28,897).

As for causing serious injury or death to others, while driving under the influence:

  • A maximum jail term of 7 years for causing serious injury.
  • A maximum jail term of 10 years for causing death.

In March of 2019, the Taiwan cabinet approved a draft amendment to its criminal code making death by DUI an indictable murder offence. Other proposals include a life sentence for causing death and up to 12 years of jail time for causing serious injury to other persons.

United Arab Emirates

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Being a Muslim country, the UAE has very little tolerance for the consumption of alcohol, let alone drinking and driving. For one, you are only allowed to consume alcohol in licensed places when in possession of a drinking permit, which must be applied. There’s even a minimum wage requirement to get the drinking permit. Hence, if you drink and drive, you might be breaking several laws all at once. If caught drink driving:

  • Fine of DH20,000 (RM23,473) and/or a jail term to be decided by the courts. Vehicle confiscation for 60 days, and license demerit of 23 points.
  • Other punishments, at the discretion of the courts, is the suspension of license between 3 months and 2 years.
  • Caught for DUI while not having a permit can bring on the punishment of up to 6 months jail time, and a fine of DH5,000 (RM5,868)

Causing serious injury or death to others while driving drunk will likely impose much heftier sentences than the above, at the discretion of the courts. Caning offenders (up to 80 lashes) is also another punishment that can be decreed by law. In addition, if your car is damaged during a collision while DUI, your insurance is considered null and void and repair costs will have to be borne by the offender.

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Now that we’ve examined the punishments for DUI in other countries, it's fair to say that Malaysia’s punishments for drunk driving are in no way menial. And with calls to increase punishments to include a maximum fine of RM100,000 of jail time of up to 20 years (almost equaling that of manslaughter charges) – will make Malaysia’s laws among the most stringent in the world.

However, it need not come to that if everyone simply follows the rules and finds a sober way of getting home. This is because, once you have had a drink and decide to drive, you’re really on your own!

Cover image credit: from Pexels