Indian origin SBS driver jailed 15 months for drinking vodka at the wheel

An Indian origin SBS Transit bus driver was sentenced yesterday to 15 months' jail and fined S$1,000 for sipping vodka while ferrying a busload of passengers, according to a report by Todayonline. 

Nagibullah Raja Saleem has been sacked by SBS Transit, and will be disqualified from driving for 10 years. Nagibullah, who has been sacked by SBS Transit. He was convicted last month for three charges of drink-driving, rash driving and using his mobile phone while operating bus service 162 on June 29 last year. 

In sentencing, District Judge Kenneth Yap rapped Nagibullah for breaking nearly every rule in the book, describing his behaviour as “highly irresponsible and reckless,” given that passengers on the bus had entrusted their lives to him.

Photo courtesy: SBS Transit
Photo courtesy: SBS Transit

The closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) footage from the bus was shown in court, and District Judge Yap chided him for the “surreal” driving, saying that the scene had looked straight out of “an action movie or video game”.

In the footage shown, Nagibullah failed to give way to oncoming traffic, nearly collided with an unknown motor car, beat six red lights, swerved left and right on three occasions, drove against the flow of traffic on two occasions, nodded off at the wheel and nearly collided with other vehicles and road barriers.

He also ignored passengers’ shouts at him.

He could also be seen drinking from a 330ml bottle of blackcurrant vodka, wrapped in a plastic bag, six times. More than four hours after his shift, he was so intoxicated that his alcohol level was assessed to be 2.4 times the legal limit. 

Nagibullah’s attorney Richard Siaw told the court that his client was having relationship problems. Nagibullah, who is married, had lunch with his ex-girlfriend that day and they got into a heated argument. He had broken up with her after his parents arranged for him to marry someone else. That afternoon when they met up, she had demanded for him to leave his wife and threatened to commit suicide.

SBS Transit had apologised for the incident, and said it has stepped up measures to avoid a repeat.