I was just thinking about a conversation I had with one of the USTDC lawyers, an Air Force captain whose name I've long since forgotten. We were discussing an auto accident in which an American military guy driving home from work was hit by a Taiwanese, who was riding a motorcycle.
I don't know about today, but in 1973-1974 there were separate lanes reserved for bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles on the major thoroughfares of Taipei. They were usually separated from the streets by fences or traffic islands, with openings every few yards to get on and off the thoroughfare.
In this case, the American automobile driver was making a left turn at night, which of course involved crossing the motorcycle lane on that side. The motorcycle rider did not have his headlights on. The driver didn't see him and the cycle ran into the car, killing the rider.
According to my friend, a case like this would normally be resolved under Taiwan law as follows:
- The American driver would be charged with vehicular homicide (or something similar) because he was crossing the motorcycle lane. Never mind the fact that he couldn't see the cyclist.
- He would be fined and sentenced to a lengthy jail term.
- He would also be ordered to pay monetary restitution to the victim's family.
- The driver would be released by the Taiwan police immediately after the trial.
- The U.S. Government would pay the fine and the family.
- The driver and his family would be sent back to the States.