Taipei, Police in Taichung came under fire on Saturday for making a five-year old boy take a breathalyzer test after he accidentally rode his bicycle into an expensive electric car parked in an alleyway.
The sobriety test is a standard police tool used in all traffic-related incidents, the Wufeng police precinct said, defending the actions of one of its officers at the scene Friday.
All individuals involved in a traffic accident, regardless of age, must be checked for alcohol even if it involves a bicycle, the precinct said.
Meanwhile, the National Police Agency (NPA) responded Saturday that in accordance with the principle of fairness, officers at the scene are required to take statements from all parties involved in an accident, sobriety tests included.
There was no misconduct on the part of the officer, as he acted in accordance with standard police procedure, the NPA explained.
The incident came to light when the vehicle owner posted a picture of the young boy taking the breathalyzer test on social media Friday, along with the hashtags “the little boy was really brave and faced up to the problem” and “lucky the boy is OK.”
After drawing criticism for the photo, the owner of the white Tesla explained that his intention was simply to show how responsible the boy was, as he didn’t run away but instead called his parents and explained what happened.
While some slammed the police for breathalyzing a child, others criticized the car owner for overreacting to a trivial matter, saying he should have settled the matter with the boy’s parents instead of calling the police.
On Saturday, the owner told reporters that he contacted the authorities because he needed an official police report for his insurance to cover the repairs.
He also added that he later reached an agreement with the family, who live next door, about repairs to the car.
Speaking to CNA on Saturday, the boy’s mother also questioned the reason for the breathalyzer test, suggesting that the police should be more flexible in such situations because her son is only five years old.
The Wufeng police precinct later said they would bring this issue to the attention of higher authorities, to see if children involved in such incidents in the future can be exempted from taking breathalyzer tests.
The National Police Agency reiterated later, however, that everything was done by the book.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel