Taipei, May 15 (CNA) Prosecutors and judges should impose heavier penalties for drunk driving offenses as a part of efforts to reduce the number of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) cases in the country, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said Tuesday.
In addition, the police should strictly enforce the relevant laws to clamp down on such offenses, Lee said at a ministry press conference.
He said hasher drunk driving penalties were found to be an effective deterrent in other countries.
In Japan, the sentence for causing serious injury to others as result of DIU ranges from one to 10 years in prison, he said. In cases involving fatalities, the maximum sentence is 15 years in prison, he added.
In the U.S. state of California, death as a result of DUI is classified as murder, he said.
He said the minimum penalty for DUI in Taiwan should be increased and his ministry will consult with the Ministry of Justice to allow heavier sentences in such cases.
Under Taiwan law, the maximum prison sentence for a DUI death is seven years, and for critical injury the sentence is six months to five years in prison.
Backing Lee's proposal, National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun said heavier penalties will help to reduce the number of DUI cases, and he hopes that local governments will work to promote safe driving practices.
According to the agency's statistics, 2,117 people died within 24 hours in vehicle accidents in 2011. Of that number, 439 were caused by drunk driving.
As of April, the number of DUI deaths this year was 146, while the total number of fatal vehicular accidents was 662.
Wang urged the public to avoid drinking and driving in order to ensure road safety.
(By Liu Chien-pang and Nell Shen)