Tue, May 08, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Legislators plan to get tough on drunk drivers

Staff writer, with CNA

A man surnamed Yeh, accused of drunk driving, is surrounded by reporters yesterday as he leaves the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office after paying NT$1 million in bail.

Photo: CNA

Lawmakers are planning to propose new amendments to the Act Governing the Punishment of Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) to increase penalties for drunk driving offenses.

Drunk driving under the current law is punishable by up to two years imprisonment, detention, or fines of up to NT$200,000. The maximum sentence for death caused by drunk driving is seven years in prison, while those who cause critical injuries can be sentenced to between six months and five years in jail.

Legislators made the proposals after a recent series of car accidents involving drunk drivers in which several people died, including a case in Greater Kaohsiung last month where an eight-year-old girl’s mother was killed after being hit by a drunk driver surnamed Yeh (葉). The girl’s grief-stricken father died several days later.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) proposed amending the law by recategorizing death caused by drunk driving as a homicide instead of manslaughter.

She proposed that penalties for causing death by drunk driving should be changed to at least seven years imprisonment or life, while causing serious injury by drunk driving should be punishable by between at least three to 10 years of jail time.

However, Democratic Progressing Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said penalties for drunk driving should be neither too severe nor too light.

Chao prefers the law to be changed to three to 10 years for death caused by drunk driving and one to five years for causing critical injury.

KMT Legislator Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣) suggested amending the act to allow mandatory installation of electronic devices in the vehicles of drivers with a history of driving while intoxicated that measure alcohol levels and automatically prevents vehicles from being driven when the would-be driver is found to exceed the legal limit.

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