Obstructing ambulance on MRR2 highway, 41yo driver with psychiatric issues may face up to 5-year jail & RM15k fine

Recently, there have been several regrettable cases of drivers in our country not giving way to ambulances transporting emergency patients on the road. On 6 January, the Sri Aman District Police released a statement regarding a Perodua Kembara not giving way to an ambulance in Sri Aman, Sarawak, while on 16 January, St John Muar Ambulance shared how one of their ambulances being blocked by a pickup truck and the passengers laughing at them after finally giving way on Pedas Linggi highway.

The most recent case involves a Toyota Camry on the MRR2 highway in Kuala Lumpur. According to NST, the driver can be seen driving recklessly and blocking the ambulance. NST in an update then reported that the driver has since been identified as a 41-year-old female who is suffering from psychiatric issues and was taken to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment and to obtain a medical report.

This latest incident has got to be the most intriguing out of the 3, given that the driver was confirmed to be suffering from a psychiatric issue that may have impacted the way she drove on the road. So, what charges does she face with this added context in mind? Furthermore, what relevant laws apply to any drivers blocking or refusing to give way to ambulances on the road?

Well, join us as we delve into the relevant laws and regulations on the matter below.

Section 42 of the Road Transport Act 1987

The most relevant law in all 3 cases has got to be Section 42 of the Road Transport Act 1987 for reckless and dangerous driving. The provision is as below:

According to Section 42 of the Act, an individual is considered to have committed an offence of reckless and dangerous driving if they drive a motor vehicle on a road recklessly or at a speed or in a manner which having regard to all the circumstances (including the nature, condition and size of the road and the amount of traffic which is or might be expected to be on the road) is dangerous to the public.

Based on the videos of all 3 aforementioned cases, the drivers can be deemed to have committed reckless and dangerous driving because they not only didn’t give way to ambulances but also actively blocked them from overtaking them. As such can be argued to be reckless driving as what Section 42(1) prescribes. 

Should an offender be convicted under this provision, they face up to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine between RM5,000 to RM15,000. Moreover, if the offence is the second or subsequent conviction, the punishment is increased to up to 10 years in jail and a fine between RM10,000 to RM20,000.

In addition, Section 42(3) also prescribes that those convicted be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 5 years from the date of conviction and if they’re a holder of a probationary driving licence, the licence would be revoked. Furthermore, should it be a second or subsequent conviction, the disqualification would be for a period of 10 years from the date of conviction.

Section 46 of the Road Transport Act 1987

As for the 41-year-old driver who blocked the ambulance on the MRR2 highway, given that she was confirmed to suffer from psychiatric issues, she may also be charged under Section 46 of the Road Transport Act 1987 for driving when suffering from disease or disability. The provision is as below:

As you can see from the above, this may only become relevant should she be aware of her disease or disability and that they could cause her driving to be a source of danger to the public when driving her Toyota Camry on that day.

Accordingly, if she were to be charged and convicted under Section 46, she may face up to RM1,000 fine or up to 3 months in jail or both.

Moving forward, it would be interesting to see the development of this case as we can’t really comment further until the police have finished their investigations. After the investigation papers are completed, the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) as the principal prosecuting authority of the case will determine the most relevant charges based on the evidence provided.

Sections 279, 283 and 341 of the Penal Code

Beyond the Road Transport Act 1987, there are also provisions under the Penal Code that are relevant to cases of reckless driving and blocking ambulances on the road. One of these is Section 279 of the Penal Code which prescribes the offence of rash driving on a public way below:

Under this provision, an individual is considered to have committed rash driving or riding on a public way should they drive a vehicle in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life or likely to cause injury to any person.

Should an offender be convicted under this provision, they may face up to 6 months in jail or up to RM2,000 fine or both.

Besides that, another potentially relevant provision is Section 283 of the Penal Code above which deals with danger or obstruction in a public way or navigation.

Under this provision, anyone found to have performed an act which causes danger, obstruction or injury to any person in any public way can be punished with a fine of up to RM400 if convicted.

Besides that, another provision that may become relevant in these sort of situations is Section 339 of the Penal Code which deals with wrongful restraint below

Should anyone committed wrongful restraint as prescribed above, they may face action under Section 341 of the Penal Code below:

Punishment for offenders convicted under Section 341 is up to 1 month imprisonment, a fine of up to RM1,000 or both.

With all of the above in mind, let’s make a lesson out of these cases and remember that it’s important for all of us to not follow these regrettable actions while on the road. Hence, please always give way to ambulances, police or the Fire and Rescue Department vehicles as doing so might just help save a life.

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