Tue, Apr 10, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Cabbie jailed for ripping traffic ticket

By Chang Jui-chen and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Taichung taxi driver was sentenced to three months in prison for destroying public documents, after he damaged copies of a traffic ticket that was given to him for running a red light.

The driver, surnamed Sun (孫), testified that the damage was accidental.

However, footage from a police officer’s dashboard camera showed Sun forcefully running his pen across the ticket twice while signing it.

The judge ruled that the damage was intentional and gave him a three-month sentence, commutable to a fine of NT$90,000.

Sun ran a red light on Taichung’s Taiwan Boulevard on Jan. 14 last year, when he was stopped by an officer from Gong Yi Police Station.

When the officer accused him of intentionally damaging the ticket book, Sun said: “Do not talk nonsense.”

Sun told the judge he “was not aware that damaging [an official document] while signing it was an offense.”

“If my intention was to damage the ticket, why would I waste my time doing it with a pen? I would simply have torn it with my hands,” he said.

The judge said that while the original copy of the ticket is intended for the offending driver, the two copies are for record-keeping and must not be damaged.

Sun’s action constituted destruction of an official document, because the fields showing Sun’s name and the offense had become illegible, the judge said.

Damaging public documents is punishable by up to five years in prison, the judge said, adding that Sun refused to admit wrongdoing, despite clear evidence he had challenged public authority and damaged the sanctity of public laws and regulations.

However, as no serious harm resulted from his actions, Sun was only given a three-month sentence, the judge said.

Sun appealed the case with the Taichung branch of the Taiwan High Court, maintaining that he did not intend to damage the ticket book and saying that he could not afford the NT$90,000 fine.

However, the High Court judge upheld the original ruling, saying that Sun’s financial situation has nothing to do with the case and that he could go to prison if he did not pay the fine.

His family could seek public assistance to help them while he is in prison, the judge said, adding that a lighter sentence cannot be given.

The Taichung Police Department First Precinct said it is not uncommon for traffic violators to rip their tickets, but added that it is not an offense, because those copies are not public documents.

However, damaging other copies of a ticket is an offense, because those are public records, they said.

The verdict can still be appealed.

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