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MOJ to modify breath alcohol level limit to 0.25 mg

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) yesterday agreed to tighten the limit of drink driving from the current 0.55 milligrams (mg) to 0.25 mg, approximately equal to consuming two cans of beers, after President Ma Ying-jeou expressed determination to stop drunk driving.

As for the proposal that anybody found to be drunk driving be detained for three days, representatives from other ministries suggested listing the regulation under a special criminal code.

Ma showed his determination recently to solve issues regarding drunk driving given the number of fatalities that occur as a result. He suggested including alleged drunk drivers on a list of those who can be detained.

The MOJ concluded that a new regulation to modify the current punishment for drivers found with a breath alcohol level between 0.25 mg (0.05 percent blood alcohol content) and 0.55 mg (0.11 percent) from administrative penalty to criminal penalty.

“I agree to tighten the breath alcohol level threshold to 0.25 mg for the safety of the public,” administrative officer of Taipei Veterans General Hospital Deng Jou-fang (鄧昭芳) said.

Other people attending the discussion, however, said that the MOJ should also consider that tightening the breath alcohol level limit could increase the workload of all related authorities because drunk driving cases would increase by 40,000 to 70,000 annually if the amendment is passed.

According to the MOJ, the current criminal code states that drivers with breath alcohol levels of between 0.25 mg and 0.55 mg can be fined and those with breath alcohol levels of more than 0.55 mg can be prosecuted on charges of offenses against public safety.

The MOJ said that they sent an amendment to the Legislative Yuan regarding placing drunk driving in the criminal code and raising the punishment for drunk drivers last year.

According to the MOJ, the section to the amendment about legally detaining alleged drunk drivers is still under review in the Legislative Yuan given the different opinions legislators.

KMT Action

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said that he will propose an amendment to tighten the upper limit for breath alcohol levels on police breathalyzer tests from the current 0.55 mg to 0.25 mg and to allow for the legal detention of drivers caught driving under the influence (DUI) for a minimum of three days.

Another KMT legislator, Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), also proposed a similar amendment with an additional suggestion that some repeat drunk driving offenders should face the possibility of capital punishment.

The current regulation states that convicted hit-and-run DUI drivers should be imprisoned for no less than six months and no more than five years.

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