In Singapore, anyone may obtain driving licenses at age 18 after passing necessary driving tests. All drivers, including foreigners, are subject to a demerit points system that can result in suspension from driving after too many offenses occur, and Singapore has several strict driving laws to encourage careful driving and keep the roads safe.
Obtaining Driving License
Singapore residents may obtain driving licenses at age 18. First, license seekers must pass the Basic Theory Test and the Final Theory Test before undergoing drivers' training with a driving instructor. After finishing lessons, the license seeker takes a practical driving test and, upon passing, receives a license. Visitors who are staying in Singapore for fewer than 12 months may drive with International Driving Permits from their home countries, but those staying for longer than a year must obtain a Singapore driving license.
Road Traffic Improvement Points Systems
All drivers are subject to the Road Traffic Improvement Points Systems (DIPS). For every driving offense, a driver accumulate demerit points, and if he accumulates 24 points or more over the course of two years, he may lose his license. For the first year after obtaining his first license, the driver can only accumulate 13 demerit points before losing his license. After 12 months with driving offenses, all previous points are erased to give the driver a clean slate.
Speeding is the most common driving offense in Singapore, and the Singapore Police Force says it is the "number-one killer on our roads." Most commonly, a speeding accident occurs when a driver speeds up to cross an intersection before a light turns red. The Singapore Traffic Police Department has patrols out 24 hours a day to catch drivers speeding with cameras that photograph vehicles, their license plate numbers, and their drivers' faces. Penalties vary according to speed, but the driver will be docked four to 24 demerit points and fined $130 to $200 (as of 2010). If the driver exceeds the speed limit by over 40 kilometers per hour, he must go to court.
Singapore law prohibits handphone driving. This includes driving with one hand holding a mobile phone and communicating with another person on that phone while the vehicle is in motion. Paging or texting with a handphone, dialing a phone number or pressing a button to receive a call while holding the handphone are also against the law. According to the Singapore Police Force, handphone driving distracts drivers and threatens other people driving and walking on the road. Penalties vary, but for a first time conviction, the convicted may be docked 12 demerit points, receive a fine of up to $1000 (as of 2010), be imprisoned for up to six months, or have his driving license taken. Upon conviction, the police may take his handphone and SIM card for investigation until the court trial.
Singapore law dictates that police may convict a driver of driving under the influence of alcohol if the driver has more than the legal limit of alcohol--35 micrograms of alcohol to 100 milliliters of breath, or 80 milligrams of alcohol to 100 milliliters of blood--whether or not the driver seemed to be in control of the vehicle. However, police may also convict a driver who has not exceeded the legal amount of alcohol if she does not have control of the car due to alcohol consumption. First-time offenders will receive a fine of between $1000 and $5000 or face six months in prison; thereafter, fines and prison sentencing will increase. The Singapore Police Force claims that all convicted drivers will have their licenses revoked for one year or longer.
- Singapore Police Force: Driving in Singapore: Speeding
- Singapore Police Force: Driving in Singapore: Drunk Driving
- Singapore Police Force: Driving in Singapore: FAQ - Traffic Violations: What constitutes handphone driving?
- Singapore Police Force: Driving in Singapore: Legal Requirements
- Singapore Police Force: Driving in Singapore: About DIPS
- Photo Credit yellow car, a honda japanese sport car model image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com
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