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Crackdown on drunk driving reduces deaths: police

TAIPEI--The number of deaths caused by drunk driving during the first 11 months of 2013 dropped more than one third from the year-earlier level, thanks to stricter law enforcement, the National Police Agency said yesterday.

A total of 218 people were killed in accidents involving drunk driving between January and November, 123 deaths, or 36 percent fewer than in the same period of last year, the agency said.

The southern city of Kaohsiung posted the sharpest decline in the number of deaths, recording a reduction of 38 from last year, followed by 16 fewer in Taichung.

Taitung County in eastern Taiwan, on the other hand, saw the largest rise in the number of fatalities related to drunk driving, seven more than the 2012 figure, according to the agency.

Meanwhile, the number of violators caught by the police during the 11-month period dropped by 6,734 to 110,090, while the number of cases sent to prosecutors for criminal investigation rose by 6,709 to 55,529.

The agency said it will continue to review and enhance preventative measures to reduce drunk driving, such as analyzing past accidents to better position checkpoints for alcohol tests on drivers.

In addition, the agency reminded the public about the tougher sentences in the Criminal Code for drunk drivers that took effect June 13.

A driver found to have a breath alcohol content of 0.25 milligrams per liter, or a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent, can be sentenced to up to two years in prison and up to 10 years if people are killed as a result of drunk driving.

The permitted alcohol level above which a driver will be fined and see his or her driving privilege suspended was lowered at the same time to 0.15 mg per liter in a breath test, or a blood alcohol content of 0.03 percent.

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