Bulgarian man charged with DUI in Taipei pleads ignorance of law

Bulgarian man claims DUI penalty much lighter in his home country than Taiwan

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Suspect (left). (Taipei Police Department photo)

Suspect (left). (Taipei Police Department photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- When a Bulgarian man identified with the Chinese surname Keh (克) was pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI) last Wednesday (May 15), he claimed that he was unaware of the seriousness of the charge in Taiwan, as it only merits "writing punishment" in his home country.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on May 15, a scooter driven by the 27-year-old Bulgarian national was weaving erratically as it entered Xinhai Road, Section 3, Lane 157 in Taipei's Da'an District. When a police officer waved a baton to signal the driver to pull over, he suddenly slammed on the brakes, reported UDN.

Suspecting that he was intoxicated, police ordered Keh to pull his scooter over. As he had the strong smell of alcohol on his breath when speaking with police, an officer then explained to Keh in fluent English the relevant regulations on administering a breathalyzer test and the penalty for refusing.

After agreeing to a breathalyzer test, police found that Keh had a blood alcohol level of 0.44 milligrams of alcohol per liter of breath (mg/L), well above the legal threshold of 0.15 mg/l. Keh, who was hired by a Taiwanese company and arrived in Taiwan last month, said that he had only consumed three bottles of beer that night, that there had been no accidents, and he was "completely sober," reported CNA.


(Taipei Police Department photo)

Keh argued that he would need to go to work in a few hours and asked that the police go ahead and release him. He then claimed that in his home country, a DUI offense only requires reporting to the police on a daily basis and "writing punishment," but police officers did not buy his argument, according to the report.

Keh's Taiwanese girlfriend, who was riding on the back, reportedly then tried to plead his case, but police went ahead and charged him with Offenses Against Public Safety (公共危險罪). Police explained to Keh that Taiwan's criminal law and administrative penalty law take precedent in Taiwan, regardless of who violates these laws while in the country.

Police then explained that Article 16 and Article 8 of the Administrative Penalty Act (行政罰法) state that no criminal or administrative liability may be exonerated because of ignorance of laws or regulations. In addition, the Criminal Code (刑法) and the Administrative Penalty Act adopt territorialism, meaning that Taiwanese authorities have jurisdiction and the right to judge whoever violates the relevant laws or regulations in Taiwan.

Officers then admonished Keh that drunk driving destroys many families, people should cherish their own safety, and drives should respect the right to life of others.