Six years for DUI accident blamed for three deaths

By Yang Kuo-wen, Pao Chien-hsin and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Fri, Nov 29, 2013 - Page 3

The Taiwan Supreme Court on Wednesday handed down a six-year jail term in a well-publicized drunk driving case that led to the deaths of three people. The ruling is the final verdict.

The court found Yeh Kuang-heng (葉冠亨) guilty of an offense against public safety and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in causing death.

Yeh, then a 21-year-old university student in Greater Kaohsiung, was partying with friends at a dance club in the early hours of April 25 last year and had consumed several rounds of drinks.

He left the club at about 6am, driving off in his white Mercedes-Benz sedan along with a friend, surnamed Chen (陳).

According to the police report, Yeh was racing his car through downtown Kaohsiung, reaching speeds of more than 120kph.

He side-swiped a garbage truck on a road next to Jhongyang Park before hitting a pedestrian who was waiting for the traffic lights at an intersection, before flipping and wrecking his car.

The pedestrian, a woman surnamed Lee (李), and Chen died at the scene.

Lee’s grief-stricken husband died three days later, leaving the couple’s eight-year-old daughter an orphan. She is now being cared for by relatives.

The death of Lee’s husband was considered directly tied to the accident.

The drunk-driving incident led to public outrage, with the demands for justice for the victims, and a heavy punishment for Yeh.

Yeh came under severe criticism after the crash for allegedly showing no remorse and apparently trying to evade responsibility for the accident.

On May 8 last year, legislators amended the Act Governing the Punishment of Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) and Article 185 of the Criminal Code, toughening the penalties for public safety offenses and DUI causing death. The prescribed prison sentence was increased from one to seven years to three to 10 years.

Additional reporting by Chen Wen-chan and Huang Chia-lin