The lost of two lives due to irresponsible drunk driving has caused an outcry. In response, the Ministry of Justice is currently studying the possibility of amending the laws to charge drunk drivers who kill people, with murder.
Several days ago, a Taichung resident surnamed Chen drove while intoxicated, despite previous drunk driving citations. While drunk driving, he reversed his vehicle without looking back first, and hit eight other cars and scooters, resulting in two deaths. There are numerous reports of drunk drivers killing innocent people in Taiwan every year, which have angered the public. According to reports, the Ministry of Justice is studying the possibility of amending the Criminal Code to be able to charge drunk drivers who kill people with murder. The draft bill will be finalized by the end of the week at the earliest.
This issue touches upon elements of a crime and clarity, so we are still in the midst of discussions.
The ministry considered the results of studies which found that drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.75 mg/L are 25 times more likely than sober drivers to cause an accident. It intends to use this standard to differentiate between drunk driving murder and general public danger. Civic groups applaud harsher punishments for drunk drivers. However, they point out that since Apr. 1, 2017, there have been 11 proposals in the legislature to amend Article 185-3 of the Criminal Code, which deals with people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to increase the punishment for such behavior. None of them have even been placed on the agenda for a first reading.
As they include making all passengers in a vehicle driven by a drunk driver criminally liable and increasing the penalty on those who refuse breathalyzer tests, we hope this series of amendments can all be smoothly achieved as quickly as possible.
Civic groups say although the heaviest punishment for drunk drivers who kill people is a 10-year sentence, no one has received this sentence due to compensation and settlements. There are very few cases of sentences over five years. They therefore urge the government to confiscate the vehicles of repeated drunk drivers. They also believe companies should reach a consensus to fire employees who are drunk drivers. This will increase the pressure on drunk drivers to prevent further incidents in the future.