DUI proposal passes at Assembly

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DUI proposal passes at Assembly

At its plenary session on Thursday, the National Assembly passed a proposal aimed at toughening the punishment for drunk driving.

A day earlier, parliamentary committees separately passed two revised proposals designed to increase punishments for driving under the influence (DUI).

Under the so-called Yoon Chang-ho law, offenders will face up to life imprisonment if a DUI causes death. A revised bill imposes higher penalties for drunk drivers caught more than twice.

Only the former was put up for Thursday’s vote. The other bill has yet to be voted on in committee - its passage is essential to enable a vote at a plenary session.

In October, more than 100 lawmakers coauthored the bill on drunk driving, prompted by Yoon’s car accident.

Yoon, a 22-year-old soldier, died earlier this month after being struck by a drunk driver in the southern port city of Busan.

Yoon’s death sparked public outrage at drunk driving and the lenient punishments for offenders.

Under the new bill, drunk drivers will face at least three years in jail and up to life imprisonment when the DUI results in death.

Current punishments are lighter, with offenders facing jail terms of at least one year.

In the case of injury, offenders will face jail terms from one year to 15 years, while the current law stipulates imprisonment of up to 10 years with no minimum term.

Yoon’s family expressed regret that the bill was not passed in its original form.

His family and friends demanded at least five years in prison in the case of DUI-induced death, but lawmakers cut the term to at least three years.

“I believed that the bill would be passed as it was. It is very regrettable that lawmakers do not read public sentiment,” Yoon’s father said.

Rep. Ha Tae-keung, who led the submission of the bill, also voiced regret that there is still a belief in society that deaths resulting from drunk driving are accidents rather than negligent homicides.

Yoon’s friends who supported the bill called for continued public attention to the issue.

“We’ve made efforts for Chang-ho and made a miracle,” Lee Young-kwang told reporters.

At Thursday’s session, lawmakers passed 60 other bills, including a revised bill to strengthen the punishment for sexual violence.

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