The National Police Agency (NPA) is implementing a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with people who refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test and intends to start applying it soon.
Since stricter laws on drunk driving went into effect last week, several drivers have refused to submit to breath tests for fear of being handed prison terms. Under current laws, the penalty for refusing to take a breath test is a NT$90,000 fine and a three-year driving license suspension, punishments that motorists are willing to risk incurring rather than facing the prospect of a prison term of up to two years or a maximum fine of NT$200,000.
To close the legal loophole, the Executive Yuan on Monday fleshed out regulations in an interministerial meeting, ordering police officers to arrest people who refuse to take a breath test in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.
According to the Executive Yuan’s decision, those who fail to submit to a breath test, but are suspected of drunk driving, will receive a NT$90,000 fine and a three-year suspension of their driving license.
They will also be arrested and taken to a police station where they will be forced to take a breath test. Anyone still refusing to take a breath test will be taken to a hospital for a blood test after police receive prosecutors’ approval. In this situation, they will be referred to prosecutors and charged with offenses against public safety before the blood test result is obtained.
The regulations state that in serious cases people under arrest can be handcuffed.
The NPA said police nationwide will have to familiarize themselves with the SOP before it is introduced.
Police officers nationwide reported 1,520 drunk driving violations as of Monday, with 1,021 cases referred to prosecutors and 145 motorists refusing Breathalyzer tests since the regulations went into effect on Thursday last week, statistics compiled by the NPA show.
The new regulations stipulate that drivers with a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.15mg/L will be fined between NT$15,000 and NT$90,000 for driving while intoxicated.
They also state that individuals can face criminal charges if they are found to have a blood alcohol content exceeding 0.25mg/L.
The harsher limits are intended to stop people from driving while under the influence of even small amounts of alcohol.