A revamping of fines and jail terms for Thai motorists driving without a licence will soon be submitted to the Cabinet and then on to the National Legislative Assembly for approval, a source at the Department of Land Transport clarified on Wednesday.
The proposal to update the law has drawn much criticism in Thai social media, where a controversy rages over potentially hefty fine increases and longer prison terms for offenders.
The update is intended to bring more discipline to on-the-road behaviour and improve overall administrative procedures by amending and then combining the Vehicle Act 1979 and the Land Transport Act 1979.
Some netizens have suggested amendments could leave loopholes that would enable rogue traffic police to prey on motorists.
The proposed update carries much harsher punishments, including a maximum fine of Bt50,000 and a possible jail term of up to three months for those driving without a licence, which compares with the current penalty of a maximum Bt1,000 fine and a possible jail term of up to one month.
Those caught driving after their licences were invalidated or revoked or had been suspended or confiscated would face the same fine as those driving without licences, compared to the current penalty of a Bt2,000 fine.
Drivers who failed to present a valid licence when requested would be fined up to Bt10,000 – 10-times higher than the current penalty.
Deputy national police spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen on Tuesday said the changes would be better able to address current driving behaviour.
He said police were ready to enforce the amended law, which he also hailed as being useful in promoting road safety and effective in disciplining motorists.
Krissana said the initial period after the law was implemented would see an emphasis on public education about the new regulations.
Krissana said the amended law, once approved by the National Legislative Assembly, would be published in the Royal Gazette and come into effect one year after the publication date.