Sun, Nov 06, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Calls for tougher penalties for drink-driving offenders

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Late police officer Chen Ming-hui is pictured in an undated photograph.

Screengrab from Facebook

A road crash that killed a police officer in Taoyuan last week has sparked public debate about the prosecution of drunk drivers, with law enforcement officials yesterday calling on the government to impose harsher penalties on people convicted of drink-driving.

Chen Ming-hui (陳明慧), 31, from Dapu Police Substation in Taoyuan’s Gueishan District (龜山), was on Friday pronounced dead due to her injuries after a police car driven by a colleague crashed while they were pursuing an alleged drunk driver, Liu Shui-sheng (劉水生), in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Chen’s sister yesterday urged the government to crack down on drink-driving to prevent similar tragedies.

“I call on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to deal with this issue in earnest. Alcohol-impaired drivers not only hurt themselves, but they also hurt other people and their families,” she wrote on Facebook.

“The moment my sister passed away, my heart was filled with much pain, and it still hurts,” she said. “Our family is suffering from this tragedy. Taiwan’s justice system is too lenient on drunk drivers. Accidents caused by drinking and driving keep on happening, but the offenders get off with only paying fines. This type of punishment means nothing to most drink-driving offenders.”

Law enforcement officers also spoke out against drink-driving penalties.

The officers called on lawmakers to propose amendments to the Criminal Code that would see drink-driving offenders handed mandatory prison sentences.

The legal system usually considers drink-driving offenses as being caused by “negligence,” they said, but these offenses should be considered “deliberate.”

Chang Hui-tzu (張惠慈), traffic division captain for Haishan Precinct in New Taipei City, said that compared with other nations, the penalties for drink-driving offenses in Taiwan are too lenient.

“Either we must launch more public education campaigns, or hand out heavier sentences with higher fines. The law does not have a deterrent effect,” Chang said. “It is most important to let motorists know the severe consequence of drinking and driving. Only when motorists understand their responsibility, and that these offenses will have a high price and serious consequences, will our society bring a halt to the alcohol-impaired driving problem.”

She said that drink-driving offenders are fined between NT$15,000 and NT$90,000, adding that drunk drivers who cause injuries can be sentenced to between one and seven years in jail, while drunk drivers who cause death can be sentenced to between three and 10 years in jail.

Separately yesterday, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Tsai was saddened by the news and wanted to express her condolences to Chen’s family, adding that the president requested generous bereavement benefits be provided to Chen’s family.

Tsai also called for a review into police officers’ operating procedures so as to better ensure their safety when they are on duty, Huang said.

Additional reporting by Su Fang-ho

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