The courts of justice are likely to propose judicial procedures for handling traffic cases rather than setting up a specialised traffic court.

Sarawut Benjakul, secretary-general of the Office of the Judiciary, said the judiciary had a piece of legislation involving judicial procedures for traffic cases picked up by a national reform committee on judicial procedures for consideration.

He said the reform panel, headed by Achaporn Charuchinda, has improved the draft and it will be proposed to the Judicial Administration Commission for review.

According to Mr Sarawut, who is also a member of the reform panel, those concerned were not warm to the idea of setting up a new court and agree that traffic offences should be heard in existing courts such as the District Court.

However, a traffic division might be set up with offences being handled under new judicial procedures for traffic cases, he said, adding that the proposed law is not expected any time soon.

He also said the Supreme Court president, Cheep Jullamon, is not keen on the idea of a new court because there are already 275 courts of justice across the country which are well-equipped to deal with traffic offences.

On proposed tougher punishments for drunk drivers involved in fatal road accidents, Mr Sarawut said longer sentences do not appear to be an effective deterrent to criminal behaviour.

He noted that about 70%-80% of drug-related inmates face life imprisonment or even death sentences, and this calls into question whether even capital punishment deters crimes.

“I don’t think we can reduce crimes by getting tougher. We need to build and raise public awareness. If they go to a party and have some drinks, they shouldn’t drive. We need to educate and make them realise that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Taling Chan provincial court is to hand down a ruling in a fatal drink-driving case against Somchai Werotepipat on July 31.

Mr Somchai, owner of Thai Carbon & Graphite Co, was indicted on three charges of speeding, drunk-driving causing death and injury to others, and reckless driving causing death and injury to others over the crash on Thawi Watthana-Kanchanaphisek Road on April 11.

The accident killed Pol Lt Col Chatuporn Ngamsuwittchakun and his wife, Nutchanat, and seriously wounded their 12-year-old daughter, Pitchayapha.

Police also charged Mr Somchai with murder and attempted murder in line with the government’s policy to curb the traffic death toll, but the prosecution dropped these charges.

The defendant pleaded guilty to the three charges and a ruling will be given on July 31 at 9 am. In late May, Mr Somchai agreed to pay 45 million baht in damages to the victims’ family.

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