Just before ringing in the New Year, a family with the surname Lin (林) was walking by the Love River in Kaohsiung (高雄), as many other families were that night. They were then struck by a drunk driver.
The man that hit then was Huang Ziyang (黃子洋). The family of four, including two young daughters, was struck while crossing the street. The father and two daughters are still in the hospital as they were seriously injured in the accident. The mother has since passed away. The two daughters still don’t know about their mother’s passing.
The mother’s wake was held yesterday, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) did not attend, though Lee Xing-juan (李幸娟), director of the Mayor’s Office did attend in his place.
Family members told reporters that this tragedy not only brings great grief to the family, but also an intense financial burden.
The family has put forth a petition asking for financial assistance with medical, legal, and transportation costs. It additionally calls for the city to increase penalties for drunk driving, and to increase protections for pedestrians including increased lighting and insuring their right of way.
Because of this case, and the family’s pleas, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has put forward an amendment to the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例). These changes would allow drunk drivers vehicles to be seized by cops, even if it is the individual’s first offence.
The amendment would also increase the amount of time required to label drunk drivers as repeat offenders to 10 years after their first offence, up from the previous 5 years. It would also allow passengers in a drunk driver’s vehicle to also be fined.
The Ministry of Justice is also slated to increase standards for petitions of drunk drivers seeking parole. Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成), a spokesperson for the Executive Yuan, also stated that individuals on probation for drunk driving can be forced to attend alcohol abuse treatment.
Drunk driving in Taiwan has been a consistent problem though overall numbers of incidents of drunk driving and related accidents have been going down over the past decade. Though they have seen a slight increase over the past few years according to government data.