Mon, Jul 25, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Anti-DWI push could see restaurant sobriety tests

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Thursday said it is considering asking restaurants that serve alcohol to have customers do a sobriety test as part of a campaign against drunk driving.

Deputy Minister of of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said the idea was inspired by South Korea, where restaurants that serve alcohol must check a customer’s blood-alcohol level before they leave to avoid running the risk of charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI).

If a restaurant serves alcohol to a customer, but fails to later administer a sobriety test and the customer has a traffic accident due to drunk driving, the restaurant is also held accountable, the ministry said.

Incentives or subsidies are being planned to encourage restaurants to help reduce incidents of drunk driving, which killed 142 people last year, officials said.

Officials said they are optimistic about the proposed policy because many non-governmental organizations and alcohol distributors are willing to provide Breathalyzers, which can cost between NT$3,000 and NT$20,000 apiece, for free.

Wang said that the campaign is aimed at reducing motor vehicle fatalities, adding that 2,700 people died in traffic accidents last year.

More than 35 percent of traffic accident-related deaths last year involved people younger than 25 years of age, most of whom were riding motorbikes, he said.

The penalties for drunk driving are too light, Wang said, adding that recidivists get an average sentence of only four months and most sentences can be commuted to fines.

Wang did not give any timetable for drafting a proposal for the restaurant-Breathalyzer program or when such a program might be implemented.

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