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Penalty stiffened for drivers who do not yield to ambulances

2011/05/03 12:21:33

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Motorists who block or obstruct passage of anambulance on duty can face a three-month suspension of their driver'slicenses in addition to a fine, according to an amendment thatcleared the Legislative Yuan Tuesday.

The new penalty will also apply to drivers who obstruct thepassage of fire engines, police cars and engineering rescue vehicleson duty, the revised Road Traffic Management and Penalties Actstipulated.

Under the original law, the offense was only punishable by a fineof between NT$600 (US$21) and NT$1,800.

The amendment was prompted by an incident in which a NationalTaiwan University doctoral candidate deliberately obstructed anon-duty ambulance that was transporting a seriously ill woman to thehospital late last year.

The delay was blamed for the death of the 86-year-old woman.

The 33-year-old student surnamed Hsiao, who was shown on awidely-circulated video as intentionally blocking the ambulance bystopping his car on a road in the Taipei suburb of Sindian and thengiving the ambulance driver the finger, later offered a publicapology.

He was charged in January with obstructing official duties underTaiwan's Criminal Code -- an offense punishable by a three-year jailsentence -- but was granted a deferred prosecution in March.

In seeking to amend traffic regulations to raise the penalty forsuch offenses, legislators had thought of increasing the maximum fineto NT$60,000. They later dropped the idea, however, because theCriminal Code already mandates a harsher punishment.

(By Kelven Huang and Y.F. Low)