I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be grieving for quite some time when bill for the late night ban on public consumption of alcohol gets passed. The only thing about Singapore that’s legitimately cool is the fact that you can crack open a can of beer in the middle of Gardens by the Bay or on East Coast Park beach. But alas, the death knell has sounded.
One of my friends, determined not to start patronising overpriced bars, was heartened when he realised that first-time offenders will probably get away with a warning, while newbies can get slapped with a fine of not more than $1,000. “It’s not that bad,” he says, prepared to run the risk for the sake of preserving his favourite local tradition.
If, like my friend, you’re glumly preparing to fork out the moolah, you’d better make sure you don’t end up having to pay any other fines. Unfortunately, in Singapore, just making sure you don’t murder someone or peddle drugs on the streets isn’t enough to keep you safe from the everpresent threat of fines. Here are some of the most expensive ones a first-time offender needs to beware of:
Getting caught for drink driving is one of the worst things that frequently happens to regular folk in Singapore. You don’t even have to be drunk to get caught, since the legal limit of 35ug/100ml of breath or 80mg/100ml of blood isn’t very high at all.
Depending on just how much alcohol they find in your body, a first-time offender can be fined between $1,000 and $4,000. Technically, they can also throw you in jail, but this usually doesn’t happen to first-timers.
But one of the worst things about getting caught for drink driving is losing your licence, because the process of getting one is so arduous in Singapore, in case you’ve forgotten those long afternoons spent taking the bus to a driving centre located in the middle of nowhere. It’s even worse if you have other licences like a motorcycle licence or taxi vocational licence, because one drink driving offence wipes all of them out. And in the case of most non-Class 3 licences, you will not only have to resit all theory and practical tests but also redo the entire course at a driving centre.
2. Using someone else’s unsecured wifi network
So your neighbour is a technological dinosaur and doesn’t know how to put a password on his wifi network, and you’ve been gleefully piggybacking on his connection. Sorry to break it to you, but if your neighbour is particularly vindictive and lodges a complaint, you could be liable to a hefty fine.
While there haven’t exactly been thousands of people who have been convicted of stealing wifi, if you’re unlucky enough you could end up paying a fine of up to $10,000. There’s also the danger that your computer will get seized during investigations, which means you could end up in a lot of trouble for other sorts of activity, if you know what I mean.
Every primary school kid in Singapore has been warned that if you become a litterbug you’ll be slapped with the ignominious Corrective Work Order, which means you get to don a highlighter yellow vest and pick up trash in a public place so the entire world can witness your shame.
Well, that wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to pay a fine as well. If you’re a first-time offender and have been caught just flicking away an innocent little cigarette butt or tossing a scrunched up ball of tissue, you’ll probably get away with a fine of $300. But try to dispose large items or, worse, fling killer litter out of the window and you could get slapped with a full fine of $1,000. Or you could be like this guy, who got fined $19,800 for perpetual littering of cigarette butts out of his home window. Yes, Big Brother is watching (and that’s a good thing).
4. Feeding pigeons
If you’re thinking of living out your Mary Poppins fantasies by feeding the little birdies, forget it. Feeding the pigeons will result in your being slapped with a fine of up to $500. Pigeon droppings are responsible for spreading all sorts of diseases, and pigeons are kind of like rats with wings.
NEA encourages people to call in and report anyone who’s spotted feeding pigeons, so don’t even think of setting up a bird feeder on the balcony or benevolently tossing your breadcrumbs into the corridor.
5. Smoking in prohibited places
Most smokers smoke in prohibited areas every single day, but what do you expect them to do really, since smoking has been banned in virtually every conceivable public place, from common corridors in HDB flats to void decks to bus tops to sheltered walkways. Technically, someone has to stand at least five metres away from a bus stop or sheltered walkway just to smoke. But nobody does that in real life because it means dying of heatstroke.
While you can technically get fined up to $1,000, in reality first-timers are likely to be made to pay the minimum of $200, unless they get caught smoking in air conditioned areas or on the MRT.
6. Eating and drinking on the MRT
The MRT is a dangerous place. Not only are you at the mercy of super vigilant MRT staff (try bringing an unopened cup of bubble tea into an MRT station and watch them descend like vultures), but if you fold yourself into a packed cabin you’ll be under the scrutiny of a thousand Stompers, too.
And while there are scores of so-called offences in Singapore that aren’t enforced, eating and drinking on the MRT is one that is. While the sinister-looking signs on the walls of the MRT station declare that you can be fined $500, in reality the amount that will be extracted from your wallet depends on the severity of your behaviour.
For example, this woman got fined $30 for eating a sweet on the MRT. Ouch! On the other hand, if you start opening a bottle of Martell and try to squeeze ketchup over your McDonald’s fries in the middle of the MRT cabin, I wish you luck.
Nobody really knows the true definition of jaywalking, because you have to be pretty unlucky to get caught. Still, it does happen. I actually know someone who did get caught, and policemen have been known to station themselves in areas rife with jaywalkers. So does the law against jaywalking mean you can never again dash across a road? Not really.
Darting across the road only counts as jaywalking if you are within 50 metres of an area designated for road-crossing, such as a traffic light, pedestrian crossing or overhead bridge. But that doesn’t deter most people from dashing across the road anyway, because nobody really wants to spend an extra 5 minutes hiking over an overhead bridge in the sweltering heat. The good news is that you’re likely to be fined a paltry $20 if you get caught for the first time.
Have you ever been fined for any of the above? Tell us about it in the comments!
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