The Supreme Court rendered the 107-Tai-Shang-574 Civil Decision of April 11, 2019 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that when determining there is drunk driving that may lead to a traffic hazard, a police officer may stop the vehicle for a spot check; and if the driver fails to comply and drives on, the police officer cannot be requested not to stop the vehicle if the likelihood of hazard cannot be eliminated.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Appellant asserted that the individual who was not a party to this lawsuit, and who was affiliated with the Appellee had surmised that Individual A was driving drunk and had intended to check. However, Individual A turned left after driving away from a restaurant (in an opposite direction from the position of the police car). The two police officers drove the police car and turned left to the opposite lane when the red light was on in violation of traffic regulations to tail the small passenger vehicle at issue at a short distance behind. Realizing that he was being followed by a police car, Individual A panicked, went through a red light and made a u turn to the opposite lane while increasing his driving speed. The small passenger vehicle at issue subsequently overturned after hitting a tree on the road side because of its high speed. As a result, Individual A was injured and died after he was hospitalized. Therefore, the Appellants, who are his children and spouse, sought compensation pursuant to relevant requirements such as the National Compensation Law. After the original trial court ruled against them, the Appellants appealed.
According to this Decision, the police may stop a vehicle for a spot check after they objectively and reasonably determine the likelihood of a traffic hazard caused by drunk driving based on all kinds of evidence. Otherwise, this would go against the mission of the police to prevent hazards. If a driver drives on without stopping the vehicle as instructed, not only the probability of an accident can increase, but also the police will be more suspicious of a likelihood of crime. Under such circumstances where the probability of a hazard cannot be surely ruled out, the police certainly cannot be asked to stop the interception and to merely cite the traffic violation or collect evidence by using scientific instruments, instead of following and stopping the vehicle.
In addition, according to this Decision, the original decision held that reasonably determining Individual A was likely to commit an offense of unsafe driving under Article 185-3 , Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, the two police officers followed Individual A, maintained a certain distance behind, and instructed Individual A to stop his car by flashing a light, honking, sounding a police siren and using a PA system. Since the police officers’ behavior in carrying out their duties was required for maintaining public order and social safety, meets the principle of proportionality, and is not legally inappropriate, the Appellants’ appeal was dismissed.