The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has proposed taking a more severe approach to combat drunk driving by holding passengers in cars driven by drunk drivers equally responsible for the crime, meaning they would also be fined.
The draft amendment would require passengers of a vehicle to assume a moral responsibility for preventing drunk driving or face a NT$3,000 fine for not stopping the driver, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said, adding that should the passenger be a minor, the passenger’s legal guardian would be responsible for the fine.
Stepping up the severity of regulations against drunk driving is one of the primary legislative amendments being pushed by the ministry in the Legislative Yuan, Mao said.
The amendment wants drivers to acknowledge that disregarding the law places drivers, their passengers, pedestrians and other vehicles on the street in danger, Mao said, adding that the increased severity would compel passengers to remind the driver of their responsibility to obey the law, or to get out.
The ministry’s Department of Railways and Highways Director-General Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯) said the draft amendment would be sent to the Legislative Yuan for approval after it is expected to pass the Executive Yuan review next week.
According to Chen, the government has not increased penalties for repeat offenders in the past, but these fines would be increased from NT$60,000 to NT$90,000 within five years after the passing of the amendment.
The same proposed penalty will apply to those who refuse to stop driving while intoxicated, Chen said, adding that the driver would be required to attend a review of road regulations.
Chen said passengers would only be fined if “they knew in advance” that the driver was drunk, adding the ministry would clarify the standards with future promotional events.
The ministry added it was also seeking to apply stricter standards on the level of intoxication for drivers without driver’s licenses, those who had their licenses for less than two years and professional drivers.
Current regulations define drunk driving as when a person has an excess of 2.5mg of alcohol in their breath tests, or have 0.05 percent alcohol content in blood samples, Chen said, adding that the draft amendment would lower the threshold to 0.15mg of alcohol in breath tests and 0.03 percent for blood samples for the three aforementioned categories of drivers.
The proposed legislation, if it passes the legislature, is expected to be signed into law at the end of next month. It would go into effect starting next year after a promotional period, the ministry said.
Additional reporting by Tseng Hung-ju