Prosecutors and judges should impose heavier penalties for drunk driving to reduce the number of cases involving those driving under the influence (DUI), Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said yesterday.
Police should strictly enforce the drunk driving laws to clamp down on the offense, Lee told a ministry press conference.
He said harsher drunk driving penalties were effective in other countries.
In Japan, causing serious injury to others while drunk driving can result in a sentence ranging from one year to 10 years in prison, he said, adding that in cases involving fatalities, the maximum sentence is 15 years in prison.
In California, death as a result of DUI is classified as murder, he said.
He said the minimum penalty for a DUI in Taiwan should be increased, adding that his ministry would consult with the Ministry of Justice to increase the severity of sentences for drunk drivers.
Under Taiwanese law, the maximum prison sentence for a DUI death is seven years, while for critical injury the sentence ranges between six months and five years in prison.
Backing Lee’s proposal, National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) said heavier penalties would reduce the number of DUIs, adding that he hoped local governments would promote safe driving.
According to the agency’s statistics, 2,117 people died in road accidents nationwide last year. Of that number, 439 accidents were caused by drunk driving.
As of last month, the number of DUI deaths this year was 146, while the total number of fatal road accidents was 662.