Government authorities are seeking to toughen the law against drunk driving, proposing to punish passengers who ride with drunk drivers.
The current law stipulates that a driver whose blood-alcohol level exceeds 0.25mg per liter faces a fine ranging from NT$15,000 to NT$60,000, depending on the type of vehicle driven and the driver's blood-alcohol content.
But a new joint proposal from the National Police Agency (NPA) and the Ministry of Traffic and Communications (MOTC) would lower the 0.25mg per liter limit to 0.15mg per liter.
The agencies also propose penalties for passengers riding with drunk drivers.
If a driver's blood-alcohol level exceeds 0.15mg per liter, passengers in his or her vehicle face a fine ranging from NT$6,000 to NT$18,000.
The current law also stipulates that a driver whose blood-alcohol content exceeds 0.55mg per liter can be charged with the crime of endangering the public, for which the driver can be fined up to NT$30,000.
Drivers who refuse to take a blood-alcohol test face the same penalty.
The joint proposal recommends that a drunk driving repeat offender not be offered the option of paying a fine to avoid a prison term, meaning that a convicted recidivist must serve the prison sentence handed down by the court.
The proposal also increases the fines from NT$90,000 to NT$150,000 for drivers whose blood-alcohol content exceeds 0.55mg per liter.
The NPA, the MOTC and the Ministry of Justice last week held a conference to discuss adopting stricter measures against drunk driving. A proposal will be handed over to the legislature this year for approval.
NPA statistics indicate that 117 people have died in traffic accidents caused by drunk driving since January.
Statistics also showed that drunk driving is the number one cause of driving accidents.
The NPA said in a press statement that 99 percent of drivers whose blood-alcohol content exceeds 0.55mg per liter receive a suspension of indictment by prosecutors, meaning the current law fails to deter drunk driving.
The NPA also cited Japan's strict traffic laws and said the regulations had effectively reduced the number of traffic accidents caused by drunk driving.
In the statement, the NPA emphasized that passengers have a responsibility to stop someone who is drunk from getting behind the wheel.
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