The Korea Herald


Taxi driver convicted for dropping passenger off on motorway

By Lim Jae-seong

Published : Feb. 13, 2023 - 16:04

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(Seoul Metropolitan Government) (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

A taxi driver was found guilty of death by occupational negligence for letting a drunk passenger out at the edge of a motorway in an appellate trial.

Busan High Court threw out a lower court's acquittal and sentenced the driver to one year in prison, suspended for two years.

The driver has also been ordered to carry out 40 hours of social services.

“Taxi drivers are responsible for protecting passengers until they reach the destination, as well as taking safety measures for them,” the court explained the decision.

“Letting the passenger off, following the abnormal demand by a drunk man, was a major error that led to an irreparable result,” the court added.

The 69-year-old driver was prosecuted for allowing an inebriated passenger to disembark on a motorway in Ulsan in April 2019. The passenger, a man in his 20s, died after being hit by a car about 30 minutes later.

The motorway where the passenger exited the taxi at nearly midnight was without a sidewalk or streetlights, the prosecution said at the trial.

The deadly accident occurred on the way to Onsan, on the outskirts of Ulsan, after changing destinations a couple of times following the passenger’s requests, according to the driver.

The driver argued that he had no choice but to follow the passenger’s demands, and that he was not aware the passenger was drunk. He said he assumed the passenger to be the owner of one of the trucks parked near where he got off. The appellate court did not accept this version of events.