Taiwan court rules against forced blood alcohol content tests for drivers

Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled Friday that it is unconstitutional to force drivers to take blood test for alcohol concentration after a road accident, and it said the relevant traffic laws must be revised accordingly.

The court was referring to one of the provisions in Article 35 of the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act, which stipulates that drivers who cannot or would not take a breathalyzer test after an accident may be taken to a medical institution or inspection agency for a blood alcohol concentration test.

The case was first brought before a judge in the Hualien District Court, after a man identified only by his last name Lin (?) was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol when his scooter crashed into a utility pole in January 2016.

Lin was rushed to hospital and was unable to take a breathalyzer test, but the police officers on the case had his blood taken to test for alcohol concentration, while he was in the emergency room.

In the district court ruling, the judge, surnamed Wu (?), said that it was against a person's basic rights to do such a test without their consent. It was also a violation to Article 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan), which guarantees the freedom and rights of all people who pose no threat to social order or public welfare, Wu said.

On Friday, the Constitutional Court agreed with Wu's ruling and said the relevant traffic laws must be revised within two years of Friday's judgment.

In the interim, police officers can still have a driver tested on suspicion of DUI, if the driver refuses or is incapable of taking a breathalyzer test after an accident, but a warrant must first be obtained from the local prosecutors' office, the court said.

If the blood test has to be done in an emergency situation, the police officers can proceed, but they must inform the prosecutors' office within 24 hours, the court ruled.

The Constitutional Court's ruling followed amendments to the Constitutional Court Procedure Act that took effect on Jan. 4 this year.

According to the Judicial Yuan, Constitutional Court litigation will now be similar to other court proceedings, and the decisions will be known as "judgments" rather than "interpretations."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel