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June 27, 2017

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Minister suggests lower blood alcohol limits to prevent DUIs

The China Post--Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) urged the Legislature yesterday to lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit and impose stricter punishment for those who drive under the influence (DUI). He also suggested the vehicles of recidivists should be confiscated.

Zero tolerance should be the ultimate legal goal governing drunk driving, Lee said, pushing for the current legal BAC to be lowered from 0.25 milligrams per liter of blood to 0.15.

In addition to lowering the legal BAC level, those who repetitively DUI should be deprived of the privilege of driving by having their vehicles taken away, the interior minister proposed. According to statistics collected by the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC), between 2007 and 2011 a total of 31.43 percent of drunk drivers were found to be repeat offenders, Lee said, advising that an amendment to Act 43 of the road traffic regulations be made.

Lee said an amendment should also be made to Act 185 of the Criminal Law, which governs the size of fines drunk drivers are to be charged. The amount should be raised to between NT$30,000 and NT$90,000, he said.

Raising fines and lowering the BAC tolerance are both passive methods in terms of the prevention of drunk driving; positive action the government could potentially consider taking, Lee said, is to judge fatal drunk driving accidents as intentional murders. If society could reach a consensus on the fact that vehicular homicide is the equivalent of murder, the public's awareness would skyrocket and the number of people who drive under the influence may decrease significantly.

The MOTC responded positively to Lee's multiple suggestions regarding drunk driving. Lee's proposals would only be implemented after support measures are in place, and less experienced drivers as well as bus, truck and other drivers of dangerous vehicles would then be the top priority of such regulations.

Illegal Taiwanese Delicacies?

As the government considers whether to lower the BAC tolerance, some locals are becoming worried about the effects of Taiwanese delicacies cooked with alcohol could have on blood alcohol levels. If a little extra alcohol is used in a dish, which results in slight alcohol overload, the legal consequences may result in controversy.

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