Starting tomorrow, drivers caught with blood alcohol level exceeding 0.15 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in the breathalyzer test will be penalized by between NT$15,000 and NT$90,000 (US$500 and US$3,000) for driving while intoxicated.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said the amendment to Article 185 of the Criminal Code was officially promulgated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday following its passage at the legislature last month.
The amendment also stipulates that individuals can face criminal charges if they are found to have a blood alcohol content exceeding 0.25mg/L in a breathalyzer test.
Prior to the amendment, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of the Interior had worked on amending the Road Traffic Security Rules (道路交通安全規則), which set a stricter standard than the Criminal Code for penalizing drunk driving.
According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the maximum standard for alcohol density had been lowered from 0.25mg/L to 0.15mg/L, adding that both the amendments to the Criminal Code and to the Road Traffic Security Rules would take effect tomorrow.
However, drivers with an alcohol level of 0.25mg/L or above in the breathalyzer test would face criminal charges first and traffic penalties later.
In the past, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications told drivers that two cans of beer were permissible.
However, the new standards means that drivers cannot drink and drive at all.
“Drivers will smell slightly of alcohol if alcohol density reaches 0.15mg/L,” said Lin Fu-san (林福山), an official at the Motor Vehicle Inspection and Administration Services.
Lin said that the nation’s standards are stricter than some other countries’, except Muslim countries where the consumption of alcohol is forbidden.
Lin said the amendment to the Road Traffic Security Rules was in response to the public demand for zero tolerance for drunk drivers.
He said that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications had previously applied a zero tolerance principle to regulate three categories of drunk drivers: those without a license, those with a license issued less than two years ago and professional drivers.
“After the amendment is officially implemented, the principle will apply to everyone,” Lin said.
For people who are caught driving drunk twice or more within five years, the starting fine would be NT$90,000, the maximum penalty for drunk driving, Lin said.