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Mayor: Drivers DUI Should be seen as Patients

Drivers DUI Should be seen as PatientsOn August 27, Mayor Ko Wen-je attended a press conference on medical intervention treatment for driving-under-influence (DUI) offenders. He noted that the city government continues its effort to minimize the damages from drugs and alcohol upon the public.
 
The mayor began his address by expressing his gratitude to the District Prosecutors Office. He noted nearly 75-percent of the people incarcerated in Taiwan have committed crimes related to drugs or alcohol.
 
Citing his background in the medical field, Ko remarked that drug and alcohol addiction are topics which medical centers are not interested in, since addicts do not have any impact on revenues from National Health Insurance payments. For doctors, they have less interest in dealing with patients who are addicts or alcoholics, as they might as well spend the time on outpatient service and surgeries, which generate income.
 
He explained that this is why he asked the Department of Health to work with Taipei City Hospital (TCH) on this issue, since for doctors of the hospital are employed by the government, their pay will not be affected by investing their time and effort on this issue.  
 
Another point he highlighted is that DUI offenders should not be treated as criminals, but as patients. This has advantages in the long run. He also emphasized that DUI is a problem that consumes social resources heavily and must be dealt with. He warned not to expect the private sector to confront this issue for the government or to rely on moral persuasions. The government should be the one driving the effort, with help from the departments of social welfare, health, legal affairs, police, and prosecutors – even the assistance of staff of prisons and medical institutions are important. Currently, TCH Superintendent Huang Sheng-jean is serving as the head of the project.   
 
Ko noted that cost performance of the treatment process is an important factor, hoping that remedies for those enrolled in the program can be effective – or ones for which treatment is regarded as necessary to prevent repeated offense. He proposed having the prosecutor’s office coming up with a list of candidates, but pointed out that determining maximum efficiency is a scientific question.