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Number of drunk driving deaths fell in 2013: MOI

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The number of deaths caused by drunk driving in Taiwan fell last year, the Ministry of the Interior said Saturday, crediting the decline in fatalities to the enforcement of tougher drunk driving rules since last June.

According to the ministry's data, the number of deaths that occurred either immediately or within 24 hours of accidents fell by 136 to 234 last year.

The decline followed stricter standards on drunk driving and tougher penalties that went into effect last June.

Under the new rules, motorists will be subject to prosecution if they are caught with a breath alcohol content of 0.25 milligrams per liter or higher, compared with 0.55 milligrams per liter under previous rules.

Drunk drivers could also face up to two years in prison, even if their violations don't lead to injury or death.

And if they are caught with a breath alcohol content of even 0.15 milligrams per liter or higher, they are fined. Previously, drivers are fined only if their breath alcohol content reaches at least 0.25 milligrams per liter.

Penalties in cases where deaths occur were also increased to between 3 and 10 years imprisonment, up from the previous penalty range of 1 to 7 years.

Transportation officials said the new rules make Taiwan among the world's countries that are toughest on drunk drivers.

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