Cost of DUI Goes Up July 1st

Introduction

The Legislative Yuan passed a series of drinking and driving measures in March, 2019. yThose new laws take effect July 1st. The new measures impose harsher and broader penalties. My Kaohsiung breaks down the new laws.

According to the Ministry of Communication, not only will the offender be punished, but even passengers in the vehicle will face consequences for not stopping the driver who is under the influence of alcohol to drive. The new laws also target scooter and bicycle riders.

Countries around the world use the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to measure the intoxication level of drivers. The BAC can be measured through a breathalyzer or a blood test. The current limit for Taiwan is 0.05% BAC. For reference the limit for the United States is 0.08% BAC, while Japan has stricter levels at 0.03% BAC.

Taiwan New DUI Laws
Photo: Central News Agency

What’s New

Penalties

✅ The new law increases the drinking and driving penalty from $15,000 – $90,000 to $30,000 – $120,000.

✅ The penalty for refusing the breathalyzer test will be doubled from $90,000 to $180,000.

License Suspension

✅ Originally, the driver’s license was suspended for one year. The new law increases the length to 1 – 2 years.

✅ If there is a child under 12 years old and is injured, the drunk driver faced a penalty of a 2 year suspension. The new law enforces a 2 – 4 year suspension

✅ If a driver receives more than one DUI conviction, refuses to take a breathalyzer or blood test over a five-year period, or causes serious injuries or fatalities, the vehicle may be confiscated and the license revoked permanently.

Passengers

The new laws also places some blame on the passengers in the “same car” as the drunk driver. Passengers, friends, or family members in the same car now face consequences for not deterring or discouraging the drunk individual from driving.

✅ Passengers will now face a penalty of $2,200 – $3,000 for those over 20 years old during the day and $1,500 – $1,900 at night.

✅ Passengers under 20 years old, the fine is $600 – $900.

Bicyclists

Due to the heavy fines for drinking and driving, many people rode bicycles after drinking. The legislative body determined that cycling posed just as serious a safety threat to the cyclists themselves and others.

✅ The bicyclist riding drunk originally faced a $600 fine. Now, that has been doubled to $1,200.

✅ Refusing the breathalyzer as a cyclist now carries a $2,400 fine.

Taiwan New DUI Laws
Photo: UDN News

Future Penalties

The Ministry of Communications said that in addition to the July 1st implementation of the new drinking and driving laws, additional penalties will be assess starting in March of next year. These include the installation of an alcohol lock device and completion of alcohol addiction treatment.

The alcohol lock devices weren’t implemented this year due to ongoing discussions over the cost and administration of the devices.

Alcohol locks work by requiring the driver to breath into a breathalyzer device that is interconnected with the ignition system. The driver breathes into the device and if the alcohol content is below the limit, the driver can start the ignition. However, if the driver is over the limit, the vehicle will fail to start.

A European Commission study supports the effectiveness of continuous use of alcohol locks.

Large scale quantitative research on alcohol ignition interlocks in use has shown that alcohol interlocks are 40 to 95 percent more effective in preventing drink driving recidivism than traditional measures such as license withdrawal or fines. An EU study indicated that alcohol interlocks need to be fitted permanently to have an effect, for after removal of the lock recidivism increases again.

European Commission

While this is progress toward curbing drinking and driving, the Taiwan Against Drinking and Driving is advocating stronger measures.

There is debate going on as to treating DUI-related deaths as manslaughter with the sentence of imprisonment, the most severe being life in jail, with some legislatures proposing the death penalty!

MOJ considers murder charges for fatal DUI

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