LC Paper No. LS 67/98-99
Paper for the House Committee MeetingObject(s) of the Bill
of the Legislative Council
on 4 December 1998
Legal Service Division Report on
Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 1998
To amend the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) to :
LegCo Brief Reference
- tighten the statutory limits for alcohol concentration permitted in drivers' blood, urine and breath and streamline the procedures for enforcing control on drink driving ;
- put private light buses providing a transport service for students under the control of the existing passenger service licence scheme; and
- rectify the existing payment arrangements for management agreements for parking meters and vehicle examination centres, which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Public Finance Ordinance (Cap. 2).
2. TRAN 1/12/126 dated 12 November 1998 issued by the Transport Bureau.
Date of First Reading
3. 2 December 1998.
Amendments related to drink driving (Part II of the Bill)
4. The current legislation on drink driving is set out in section 39 of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374), which was amended in 1995 to prescribe a legal limit of alcohol concentration in a driver's blood, urine and breath and to impose a legal obligation on drivers to provide samples of blood, urine or breath for testing under specified circumstances.
5. Despite the implementation of the drink driving legislation is 1995, drink driving remains one of the main contributory factors to road accidents. To deter drink driving, the Bill seeks to further tighten the prescribed alcohol concentration limits by lowering the legal limits of alcohol concentration in a driver's blood, urine and breath. The current alcohol concentration limits and the proposed limits are set out below:
Prescribed Legal Limits of Alcohol Content
Current prescribed limits of permitted alcohol content
Proposed prescribed limits of permitted alcohol content
80 mg/100 ml
50 mg/100 ml
107 mg/100 ml
67 mg/100 ml
6. According to the LegCo Brief, the existing Blood Alcohol Concentration ("BAC") of 80 mg for most people equates to about 3 to 4 cans of mild beer or 3 small glasses of wine in the first hour. The more stringent 50 mg for most people equates to about 2 cans of mild beer or one and a half small glasses of wine in the first hour. Such tightening of the BAC limit is in line with international trend. Members may refer to Annex B to the LegCo Brief for international trend in the BAC limit.
7. To streamline the drink driving testing procedures, the Bill also makes provisions on the following matters :
- apart from medical practitioners, registered nurses and enrolled nurses will be allowed to take blood specimens from drink driving suspects;
- the requirement for, and refusal of, providing blood specimens can be made at police stations and breath test centres in addition to hospitals;
- the requirement for providing breath and urine specimens can be made at breath test centres in addition to police stations and hospitals; and
- the Commissioner of Police may designate a place or vehicle to be a breath test centre.
The Administration expects that the above measures will help the Police reduce the time required to complete the testing procedures.
8. If enacted, Part II of the Bill will come into operation on 1 May 1999.
Amendments related to private light buses (Part III of the Bill)
9. At present, public buses, private buses and public light buses are under the control of the passenger service licence scheme ("the Scheme"), which empowers the Commissioner for Transport ("the Commissioner") to introduce new terms and conditions to enhance safety of the operation of those vehicles. However, private light buses providing school transport services are not covered by the Scheme.
10. To enhance the safety of school transport, the Bill extends the Scheme to school private light buses. The effect of such extension is to enable the Commissioner to impose a uniform set of licensing conditions applicable to school private light buses and amend the terms or conditions of any such licence by giving 3 months' notice after consultation with the licensee. This will provide the Commissioner the flexibility in introducing changes to the licensing conditions for promoting the safe operation of school private light buses.
11. The proposed fees for a passenger service licence issued in respect of a school private light bus service are $396 per annum. The proposed fees are the same as those charged for public buses, public light buses and private buses.
12. If enacted, Part III of the Bill will come into operation on 1 May 1999. However, this Part will not apply to private light buses with valid vehicle licences immediately before the commencement of this Part until those licences expire or 1 September 2000, whichever is earlier.
Amendments to rectify the payment arrangement for management agreements (Part IV of the Bill)
13. The Bill introduces a new provision which provides that, where the terms of a parking meter management agreement or vehicle examination centre management agreement have been approved by the Financial Secretary, such portion of the moneys raised or received for the purposes of the Government under the agreement, which the operator is entitled to retain by way of remuneration or reimbursement, shall not form part of the general revenue.
14. The purpose of the new provision is to rectify the payment arrangement for two management agreements, which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Public Finance Ordinance (Cap. 2) ("PFO"). Under the PFO, unless otherwise provided in the PFO or any other enactment, any moneys raised or received for the purposes of the Government shall form part of the general revenue.
15. However, the two management agreements engaged in by the Government, one for parking meters and one for the New Kowloon Bay Vehicle Examination Centre, allow the private operators to retain, by way of remuneration or reimbursement, a portion of the moneys collected for and on behalf of the Government, namely, the statutory fees for metered parking and vehicle examination. Under the PFO, all such fees collected should form part of the general revenue.
16. The new provision will also enable the Government to adopt similar payment arrangement in future management agreements for parking meters and vehicle examination centres.
17. Part IV of the Bill will come into operation upon its enactment.
18. The Transport Advisory Committee, the Hong Kong Medical Association and the Road Safety Council have been consulted on the drink driving proposals. They expressed support to the proposed amendments.
19. In June 1998, the trade was informed of the Government's intention to implement the proposal on extending the passenger service licence scheme to school private light buses. According to the Administration, the trade did not raise any objection.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
20. An information paper on the Bill issued by the Transport Bureau in September 1998 has been circulated to members of the Transport Panel.
21. The Bill seeks to introduce policy changes in various areas, in particular, in the drink driving legislation and its enforcement procedures. Members may consider setting up a Bills Committee to study the Bill in detail.
FUNG Sau-kuen, Connie
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
1 December 1998