Motorists who block or obstruct the passage of an ambulance on duty can face a three-month suspension of their driver’s license in addition to a fine, according to an amendment that cleared the legislature yesterday.
The new penalty will also apply to drivers who obstruct the passage of fire engines, police cars and engineering rescue vehicles on duty, the revised Road Traffic Management and Punishment Act (道路交通管理處罰條例) stipulates.
Under the original law, the offense was only punishable by a fine of between NT$600 and NT$1,800.
The amendment was prompted by an incident in which a National Taiwan University doctoral candidate deliberately obstructed an on-duty ambulance that was transporting a seriously ill woman to the hospital late last year.
The delay was blamed for the death of the 86-year-old woman.
The 33-year-old student surnamed Hsiao (蕭), who was shown on a widely circulated video intentionally blocking the ambulance by stopping his car on a road in Sindian (新店), New Taipei City (新北市), and then giving the ambulance driver the finger, later offered a public apology.
He was charged in January with obstructing official duties under the Criminal Code — an offense punishable by a three-year jail sentence — but was granted a deferred prosecution in March.