A young baker in Taichung had a passion for confectionery. Three years ago he started a night market stall and, with the help of his retired parents, worked his way up to having his own shop. His dream died with him beneath the wheels of the speeding car of a Golden Jaguar nightclub hostess, who had her driver’s license suspended for drunk driving. His elderly father broke down in tears and asked if the tragedy had been the parents’ doing.
Of course it was not the parents’ fault: The young baker was killed by a habitual drunk driver.
However, it could be asked who allowed this habitual offender, who had been caught by the police, indicted and tried, to go on speeding around the city.
The US has had a series of shooting incidents. Taiwan’s drunk drivers have been no less deadly and their biggest accomplices are judges sitting in their ivory towers.
In 1999, among other amendments to the Criminal Code, Article 185-3 was added to deal with the problem of drunk driving. Although penalties have gradually increased, incidents caused by drunk driving are still one of the main reasons for tragedies that befall many families.
During the nearly 20 years since the article was enacted, police have faced resistance from elected officials and drunk drivers, while judges have repeatedly made judgements that miss the intent of the legislation, choosing to side with drunk drivers.
For example, Article 35, Paragraph 4 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例) stipulates that drivers who refuse to take alcohol level tests will not only be fined NT$90,000, but also have their cars immediately impounded and their licenses revoked. These penalties are considerably harsher than those for drivers who take the test and are found to be over the limit.
The point is to not let drivers who refuse to take Breathalyzer tests get away with lenient treatment, otherwise it would encourage drivers to refuse the tests.
However, some judges have found ways to help people get off the hook, despite their refusal to take the test.
For example, the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled that a driver who had locked his car doors, fallen asleep and refused to undergo a Breathalyzer test should not have to pay the NT$90,000 fine or have his license revoked.
The court’s said the police had performed random, summary and indiscriminate Breathalyzer tests on the drivers of all vehicles passing along that section of road, which, in the judges’ view, did not comply with Article 8 of the Police Power Exercise Act (警察職權行使法), which says: “The police may stop any form of transportation that has posed a hazard or is likely to pose a hazard according to objective and reasonable judgement.”
The judges concluded that the police acted unlawfully by stopping and inspecting the car.
The man was allegedly driving along the road when he saw a roadside checkpoint and warning lights. He then parked by the roadside and fell asleep so quickly and deeply that he failed to hear the police knocking on his car window and calling out to him. Did he really fall asleep or was he pretending to sleep to avoid the test?
The answer is so obvious that 99 out of 100 respondents in an opinion poll said the driver was pretending. Only one person — a judge — believed that the driver was innocent and that he just happened to have felt tired and fallen asleep when he arrived at that particular place.
People cannot expect every judge to have enough knowledge and experience. All they can do is call on judges to respect police officers’ professional judgement and not undo the efforts of frontline police officers to discourage drunk driving.
Sandy Yeh is secretary-general of the Asian Association of Police Studies.
Translated by Julian Clegg
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
During my twenty-two years in the US Senate, I became a student of Taiwan and its history. I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, and have made at least 25 trips to Taiwan and have been invited as an observer to two of the nation’s presidential elections. Taiwan’s continuous economic miracle has seen the nation transition from a mixed agricultural-industrial society at the end of Japan’s 50 years of jurisdiction to today’s economic powerhouse, unmatched by most nations of the world. Just as outstanding has been Taiwan’s decades of resistance and