Taiwan's justice ministry mulling tougher charges in fatal drunk driving cases

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(By Central News Agency)

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said Sunday it is considering a law amendment that would allow charges of voluntary manslaughter in drunk driving cases that result in death, following two road fatalities the previous day.

In a statement, the MOI said it will hold discussions on the issue with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of the Interior.

The discussions will not only focus on whether to charge drunk drivers with voluntary manslaughter in cases of death, but will also examine the possibility of imposing prison sentences against repeat offenders in cases of driving while intoxicated (DWI), the MOI said.

The statement was issued one day after an accident in Taichung City, in which two motorcyclists were killed when they were hit by an SUV driven by a man who allegedly was drunk.

The SUV, traveling on the wrong side of the road in the city's Dali District, also swiped four parked vehicles, two on the side of the road and two at a residential building, before coming to a stop, according to the city's Fire Bureau.

The two motorcyclists, both in their 20s, had no vital signs when emergency crews arrived on the scene and were both pronounced dead on arrival at hospital, the Fire Bureau said.

Police said they later determined that the SUV driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

The man is a repeat DWI offender whose driver's license had been suspended in March 2018 and he was charged last November with drunk driving without a license, according to the city bureau.

On Sunday Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) denounced the driver, saying his behavior was "irresponsible."

Su said that when the new legislative session begins Feb. 11 after the Lunar New Year holiday, bills related to drunk driving will be given top priority.

The Legislature will seek better ways, including introducing stricter punishment and making law amendments, to prevent DWI offenses, Su said.

In Taiwan, the maximum penalty for voluntary manslaughter is death.