Ministry of Justice officials and lawmakers yesterday said they would push for more severe penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol after two people were killed on Saturday in an apparent drunk-driving incident.
Officials said they would also propose an amendment to allow homicide charges against DUI offenders.
Chen Jui-ying (陳瑞盈), 48, was allegedly driving in the wrong direction on a road in Taichung’s Dali District (大里) when he plowed into three motorcycles, then hit a taxi and four parked cars, police said.
Photo: Screen grab from Su Tseng-chang’s Facebook account
A 21-year-old man surnamed Peng (彭) and a 25-year-old woman surnamed Cheng (鄭) were struck while riding their motorcycles and died, police added.
Tests found that Chen’s blood-alcohol level was 0.81 milligrams per liter (mg/L), well in excess of the 0.15mg/L legal limit, they said.
His driver’s license had been suspended after he was caught driving under the influence in March last year and again in November, police added.
Chen was yesterday granted bail of NT$3 million (US$97,577), but could not come up with the money.
Peng, a university student majoring in architecture, worked part-time at a cram school and was returning home after a dinner party, police said.
Cheng worked at a local restaurant and was preparing to marry her boyfriend next month, they said.
Peng’s father broke down sobbing and was inconsolable at a police station, where he said Chen was “among the lowest dregs of society.”
“I kept on seeing news reports of drunk drivers killing people and never thought it would happen to my family,” Peng’s father said.
“He was my only son, and his life was just beginning, but now he is dead... Drunk drivers are the most despicable people,” the father said.
Three people were killed in the same district on Jan. 23 when a man surnamed Lai (賴), 41, allegedly drove his minivan through a red light and hit a taxi.
The taxi driver and two passengers died, while a third passenger was injured.
Lai and his passenger sustained serious injuries.
Lai’s blood-alcohol level was 1.39mg/L, police said.
The cases have sparked a public outcry, with many people demanding stricter sentences, including the death penalty, for drunk driving.
Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) has called on the judiciary to improve measures to combat drunk driving.
Law enforcement agencies should impound the vehicles of drivers upon receiving test results showing that their blood-alcohol levels are above the limit, Tsai said.
Repeat offenders should be required to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles, preventing them from driving while intoxicated, he said.
Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said he would place amending drunk driving legislation on the priority agenda for the upcoming legislative session.
All political parties should tackle the issue by pushing for more severe punishments to deter drunk driving, he said.
Drivers who are found responsible for someone’s death while under the influence face a jail sentence of three to 10 years.
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