The Council of Grand Justices on Friday ruled that it is unconstitutional to force drivers to take a blood alcohol test after an accident, and said that traffic laws must be revised accordingly.
The council was referring to one of the provisions in Article 35 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例), which stipulates that drivers who cannot or will not take a breath alcohol test after an accident may be taken to a medical institution or inspection agency for a blood alcohol test.
The case was first brought before a judge in the Hualien District Court, after a man identified only by his surname, Lin (林), was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol when his scooter crashed into a utility pole in January 2016.
Photo: Wu Cheng-feng, Taipei Times
Lin was rushed to a hospital and was unable to take a breath alcohol test, but police officers had his blood taken to test for alcohol while he was in the emergency room.
In the district court ruling, the judge, surnamed Wu (吳), said that it was against a person’s basic rights to perform such a test without their consent.
It was also in contravention of Article 22 of the Constitution, which guarantees the freedom and rights of all people who pose no threat to social order or public welfare, Wu said.
The council on Friday agreed with Wu’s ruling and said traffic laws must be revised within two years of Friday’s judgement.
In the interim, police officers can still have a driver tested if they suspect them of driving under the influence or if the driver refuses or is incapable of taking a breath alcohol test after an accident, but a warrant must first be obtained from the local prosecutors’ office, the council said.
If a blood test is necessary in an emergency situation, the police can proceed, but they must inform the prosecutors’ office within 24 hours, the court ruled.
The ruling follows changes made under the Constitutional Court Procedure Act (憲法訴訟法), which was promulgated in 2019 and took effect on Jan. 4 to replace the Constitutional Interpretation Procedure Act (司法院大法官審理案件法).
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