Amid calls for harsher penalties for drunk drivers, the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) yesterday said that it plans to have repeat offenders take life education courses at funeral parlors.
Each year, there are more than 100,000 cases of driving under the influence (DUI), 40,000 of which involve repeat offenders, government statistics showed.
Current laws require people caught driving intoxicated for the first time to take a six-hour course, while repeat offenders must take a 12-hour course over two days.
Photo: Chen Wei-tsong, Taipei Times
Last year, 76,142 first-time DUI offenders and 4,211 repeat offenders took the courses. From 2015 to last year, 330,462 offenders attended 5,969 courses, DGH statistics showed.
To instill in repeat offenders that drunk driving is a reprehensible mistake that could be fatal, the agency plans to “increase the depth” of the courses by taking repeat DUI offenders to witness the freezer contents at funeral parlors.
The agency is considering giving the courses in spaces set up for funerals so that repeat offenders are more likely to comprehend how drunk driving puts both themselves and others in harm’s way, it said.
“We plan to invite the chairman of Taiwan Against Drunk Driving to give the classes. Hopefully, the courses will ensure that repeat DUI offenders finally understand the damage that drunk driving can cause to lives and persuade them to not repeat their offenses,” the agency said.
The Taipei Motor Vehicles Office is in talks with the New Taipei City Funeral Parlor about hosting classes, which could take place as early as the end of this month.
The Hualien Motor Vehicles Office has approached an area prison about hosting visits for repeat offenders as a form of deterrence.
The courses are effective, the DGH said, citing donations from repeat offenders who had visited patients in a vegetative state at facilities operated by the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation.
The agency pays for the courses, which cost about NT$16.8 million (US$5.5 million) last year.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has drawn up a draft amendment to the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例) that would have offenders pay for the classes.
Drunk drivers could be required to pay for the courses themselves as soon as years-end, although it is as yet unclear whether they would have to shoulder all of the expenses, which include teaching materials, mailing notices, decorations and lecturers’ fees.
The Ministry of Justice has said that to curb drunk driving, laws might be amended so that repeat DUI offenders could be given the death penalty if they cause death.
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