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Legislators to propose heavier penalties for drunken driving

2012/05/06 21:18:27

Taipei, May 6 (CNA) Lawmakers were planning Sunday to propose new amendments to the Act Governing the Punishment of Violations of Road Traffic Regulations to increase penalties for drunken driving offenses.

Drunken driving under the current act is punishable by up to two years imprisonment, detention, or fines of up to NT$200,000 (US$6,823). Prison sentences for causing death by drunken driving is up to 7 years in prison, while those who cause critical injuries can be sentenced to between 6 months and 5 years in jail.

Legislators made the proposals after several people died in car accidents caused by drunken drivers recently, including a case in Kaohsiung in April, where an 8-year-old girl was orphaned after her mother, Li Hsing-jung, was killed.

Li died after being hit by a drunken driver surnamed Yeh. Her grief-stricken husband died several days later.

Ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan proposed amending the law by categorizing death caused by drunken driving as homicide instead of manslaughter, as is currently the case.

She proposed that penalties for causing death by drunken driving should be changed to at least seven years imprisonment or life, while causing serious injury by drunken driving should be punishable by between at least 3-10 years of imprisonment.

Opposition Democratic Progressing Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin, however, said penalties for drunken driving should be neither too severe nor too light.

Chao proposed 3-10 years for death caused by drunken driving, with 1-5 years for causing critical injury.

KMT Legislator Chiang Chi-chen, meanwhile, suggested amending the act to allow mandatory installation of electronic devices that detect alcohol levels and automatically prevent the vehicle from being driven, in the vehicles of drivers with a history of drunken driving.

(By Chen Wei-ting and C.J Lin)