Drink drivers in Taiwan who cause fatal accidents could face the death penalty under a new proposed law.
A draft amendment to the Criminal Code in the country would make death by drink driving an indictable murder offence.
For the most egregious cases, it could be punishable by death if the court finds the action to have been intentional.
According to Channel News Asia, the cabinet approved the draft amendment earlier today (March 28), which is now awaiting parliamentary approval.
Currently in Taiwan, the maximum sentence for causing a fatal accident while drink driving in 10 years in prison.
The proposed law would increase this for repeat offenders who commit a new offence within five years of their first conviction.
They would face 12 years for causing grave injuries, and a life sentence for causing a death.
The proposal comes after a series of deaths caused by drink driving generated widespread outrage in the country.
In January, a 40-year-old man killed three people after crashing his van into a taxi while drink driving.
Announcing the proposed new law, the Justice Ministry said in a statement:
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.
Very few countries use the death penalty for drink driving cases.
Some states in the United States use capital punishment, while China has previously vowed to execute those who cause a fatal accident while drink driving.
In 2014 in Texas, a man was indicted on capital murder after he drove his car into a crowd while intoxicated, killing four people.
Prosecutors ended up not seeking the death penalty, so the man was sentenced to life in prison.
The proposed new law has sparked an outcry in Taiwan, as several rights group criticised the amendment, issuing a joint statement calling for ‘rational legislation for irrational drunk driving’.
The statement, which was written by groups including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, added:
There is a lack of evidence and research that seeking grave penalties and legislation would truly prevent drunk driving.
After a five-year hiatus, Taiwan started using capital punishment again in 2010, despite several rights groups calling for its abolition.
The public have shown their support for keeping the death penalty though in various surveys which have been conducted over the past few years.
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