Taiwan is planning to introduce tougher punishments for driving under the influence (DUI) cases that may include the death penalty, sparking outcry from abolition and rights groups in the country.
On Thursday, March 28, the cabinet approved a draft amendment to the Criminal Code, which would increase the maximum penalty for drunk driving a death sentence. In scenarios where the act is deemed “intentional,” the death penalty could be applied, Channel News Asia reports. The new law would also increase jail time to individuals who offend repeatedly in the timespan of five years.
In a statement, Taiwan's Justice Ministry said: "Cases of drunk driving leading to death are rampant … drink drivers recklessly caused accidents that took lives and destroyed families to result in irreparable regret."
Although the draft still needs parliamentary approval, human rights groups are speaking out against the draft. The Taiwan Association for Human Rights issued a joint statement with other groups saying, "There is a lack of evidence and research that seeking grave penalties and legislation would truly prevent drunk driving,” and that politicians should opt for "rational legislation for irrational drunk driving."
According to government statistics quoted by The Taipei Times, there are more than 100,000 cases of DUI in the country, with 40,000 of them involving repeat offenders. Currently, first time offenders must attend a six-hour course on "life education," while repeat offenders must take a 12-hour course that lasts two days. Anyone who causes a fatal accident from drunk driving can be punished with up to 10 years of imprisonment.
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