The Executive Yuan approved a draft amendment to the Criminal Code at its weekly meeting Thursday, mandating that drunk drivers found guilty of intentional vehicular homicide could face capital punishment.
The draft stipulates that repeat drunk drivers who commit a similar offense within a five-year period that results in serious injury to another party, face a jail term of five to 12 years, and in the event the victim dies, seven years to life imprisonment.
The bill will be sent to the Legislative Yuan where they will be debated and passed before taking effect.
Citing Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Executive Yuan spokesperson Kolas Yotaka (谷辣斯．尤達卡) said more severe punishments are being introduced for driving under the influence (DUI) because such behavior has resulted in the deaths of many innocent people and destroyed numerous families.
In response to the law amendments, several civic groups, including Covenants Watch, Taipei Bar Association and Taiwan Association for Human Rights, urged what they called "rational legislation," arguing that in practice, implementing harsher sentences could be problematic if they result in severe punishments for minor offenses.
According to Deputy Minister of Justice Tsai Pi-chung (蔡碧仲), based on Article 13 of the Criminal Code, a DUI driver convicted of deliberately killing a person he or she hit could potentially receive the death penalty -- something international conventions do not rule out. (By Wang Yang-yu, Ku-chuan and Flor Wang)