Mon, Feb 18, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Jail term for repeat DUI offender found too lenient

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

People hold up signs reading “DUI = Murder” and call for heavier sentences for repeat drunk driving offenses at a protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Friday.

Photo: CNA

The Taiwan High Court yesterday sentenced a man to six-and-a-half years in prison for killing a teenager while driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, but critics said the punishment was too lenient and would not deter drunk drivers.

Tai Wen-hsia (戴文夏) on Dec. 15, 2017, ran over a 16-year-old girl surnamed Liu (劉) on Provincial Highway No. 3 in Hsinchu County’s Guansi Township (關西) and fled the scene, the court said.

Police tracked him using video footage from surveillance cameras and dashcams of other passing vehicles, the court said.

When police caught Tai the next morning, he still had a blood alcohol level of 0.73 milligrams per liter (mg/L), well in excess of the legal limit of 0.15mg/L, it said.

He told police that he drank several glasses of Kaoliang liquor at a dinner party with family and friends, and ate a pot of ginger duck (薑母鴨), which is prepared with rice wine, the court said.

Hsinchu prosecutors found that Tai had five previous DUI convictions going back to 2002 and that his driver’s license was suspended in 2016.

He was given light sentences of up to six months for his convictions, which were all commuted to fines, they found.

For the 2017 hit-and-run, the Hsinchu District Court sentenced Tai to five years in prison for drunk driving resulting in death and two years for fleeing the scene of a fatal accident, which were combined for a term of six-and-a-half years.

Tai’s lawyer and prosecutors appealed the ruling, which the High Court upheld.

The ruling sparked public outrage, with many taking to social media to vent their anger at the judges.

“Only a six-year term for a DUI driver who destroyed a young life, our judiciary is so out of touch with society,” an Internet user wrote.

“Is one life worth only six years? This is no deterrent for drunk drivers. The guy kept getting off lightly by paying fines over previous convictions,” an Internet user surnamed Su (蘇) wrote.

“This sentence shows that judges let drunk drivers off too easily. The man should be convicted for intentional murder,” another user surnamed Lin (林) said.

The government and lawmakers have been under public pressure to impose harsher punishments for drunk driving in the wake of a string of fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers, including one early this month in which two people were killed and another on Jan. 23 when three people were killed.

Both accidents happened in Taichung.

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