Wed, Dec 25, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers pass bills on cycling, taxes and drugs

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Cyclists using a cellphone or other handheld devices, or caught drinking alcohol on the road will face a fine of up to NT$600 following the legislature’s passage yesterday of an amendment to the Act Governing Punishments for Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例).

The maximum fine for similar offenses is NT$3,000 for those in a car and NT$1,000 for scooter or motorcycle drivers.

The amendment also states that cyclists can be fined up to NT$600 for failing to give pedestrians right of way when passing through pedestrian crossings or sidewalks or when making a turn at an intersection.

Meanwhile, vehicle drivers will be banned from using exclusive bicycle lines, with violators facing a fine of between NT$600 and NT$1,800.

A new rule was also introduced into the act to prevent “dangerous driving behavior” — defined as drivers competing for lane space or constantly braking suddenly.

Offenders can be fined a maximum of NT$24,000, banned immediately from driving and have their driver’s license suspended for three months.

Repeat violators will have their cars seized.

The current fine for zigzagging or operating a vehicle “in other dangerous manners” is NT$6,000 to NT$24,000.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤), who initiated the revision, said the new rule addressed ambiguities in the legislation and should discourage aberrant driving behavior.

The legislature also passed a raft of other measures, including an amendment to the Teacher’s Act (教師法) to strengthen preventive measures against drug use.

Teachers can be dismissed for altering or destroying evidence related to drug use on campus.

The legislature also passed an amendment to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) freeing institutions from the obligation to issue hard-copy certificates of withholding taxes unless otherwise specified.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the revision was made to reduce paper consumption, adding that it could save 64 million sheets of paper, eliminate 31.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and save NT$183 million (US$6 million).

The ministry estimated that about 87 percent of taxpayers use the online tax filing system to file their taxes, meaning that hard- copy certificates are not necessary for the vast majority of taxpayers.

Under the amendment to the Habeas Corpus Act (提審法) passed yesterday, dubbed “the Good Samaritan” clause, if a person is detained or arrested by any institution other than a court, any person can request a court hearing on behalf of the detainee and the case shall be brought to court within 24 hours.

The institutions will be required to inform detainees of their right to see a judge.

Chinese nationals arriving in Taiwan for family reunions and illegal workers are expected to be among the main beneficiaries of the amended law.

The legislature also revised the Labor Insurance Act (勞工保險條例) and the National Pension Law (國民年金法) to prohibit the use of insurance payouts as sources from which the government can take enforcement action to recover debts or for other purposes.

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