New law for foreign drivers in China
The Ministry of Public Security introduced a new law on January 1. 2009 requiring all foreign drivers to be under the same jurisdiction as Chinese drivers.
This means that the Chinese authorities will have the right to detain and imprison foreigners suspected of being responsible for the accident until the case is closed. This is also in accordance with Chinese laws which prohibit foreigners to leave the country while you are involved in criminal or civil cases.
In addition, the new law gives Chinese authorities the power to imprison guilty motorists for up to three years and hit and run drivers involved in a fatal accident for up to seven years.
Prior to any civil litigation bank accounts and assets of the accused motorists can be frozen at the request of the victim's family. This is to ensure that any claims can be met. Besides the police fine these claims can include medical expenses, lost earnings and damages for pain and suffering. It is also worth noticing that the police will always allocate a certain percentage of the blame on all involved parties in a traffic accident. So it is not possible to completely avoid problems when accidents happen.
If you drive without a valid license as a foreign motorist, in the event of an accident, you will be fully liable no matter what happened!