South Korea is enforcing tougher measures on those who drink and drive.
Under the country's revised traffic law which came into effect on Tuesday, drivers whose blood alcohol levels measure zero.zero-three percent or higher will have their licenses suspended. That's stricter than the previous limit of zero.zero-five.
Those whose alcohol levels read zero.zero-eight percent or higher will have their licenses revoked.
The zero.zero-three percent threshold amounts to about one shot of soju or a can of beer, and is comparatively lower than in countries like the United States, the Netherlands and England.
The changes come as the second phase of the so-called Yoon Chang-ho Law -- revision bills named after a university student who died from severe head injuries last year after an intoxicated driver collided with him.
The tragedy led to calls for action and prompted parliament to pass a series of amendments in November, introducing stronger laws against driving under influence for the first time in nearly six decades.
"Drinking has been seen as a form of bonding and building trust in Korean society where groups go to two or three places throughout the night. So, court rulings in the past on drink-related crimes have reflected this rather tolerant culture toward drinking the notion that having one or two drinks is okay. With the new zero.zero-three-percent threshold, it is now clear that even one sip is unacceptable."
Drunk drivers can now receive up to a life sentence if they cause fatal accidents, and face heavier penalties the second time they get caught, compared to the previous three-strike rule.
While the number of accidents and fatalities caused by drunk driving has been decreasing significantly in recent years, it still accounts for 9 percent of all road accidents.
As the revised law takes effect, the police have also launched a two-month crackdown across the nation, from 10 PM to 4 AM, in areas where accidents are frequent.
Between midnight and 8am on Tuesday, the police found 153 cases of drunk driving nearly two thirds of them with blood alcohol levels above zero.zero-eight percent.
"Beyond the rules and numbers, the bigger picture is to try to change the culture of leniency toward heavy drinking and the accidents caused by drinking in Korea.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News."