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Saigon Police Want Nhậu Eateries to Report Drunk Customers Who Try to Drive

Now that public gathering is no longer a health hazard, Saigon’s drunk driving epidemic is back in full swing.

Starting from July 5, the Hàng Xanh Traffic Police Squad embarked on a campaign to curb drunk driving using a number of measures, including seeking collaboration from local nhậu eateries. The squad joined the Bình Thạnh District Police Station to meet with restaurant owners on Phạm Văn Đồng Street, as Thanh Niên reports.

The major urban artery is one of many nhậu hot spots targeted by the initiative. In addition to Huỳnh Tấn Phát Street in District 7, both play host to numerous casual drinking spots that open from the early evening until as late as the next morning.

Hàng Xanh Police provided traffic safety brochures, informed eatery staff about dangerous blood alcohol levels, and distributed banners about the ramifications of driving under the influence for nhậu restaurants to hang on the premises.

The officers also requested that owners contact local ward police or the Hàng Xanh Police in cases where drunk patrons insist on driving home. This call for action has sparked discussion online regarding whether it’s realistic to depend on proprietors to rat out their customers.

Vũ Ngọc Lăng, the former director of the Traffic Safety Agency, told Tuổi Trẻ in an interview that eateries should have other measures to protect their clientele’s safety before contacting law enforcement. He suggested tasking employees with driving intoxicated patrons and their vehicle home, or asking their relatives to come pick them up.

According to Ken, who owns an ốc restaurant on Phạm Văn Đồng, he encourages diners to leave bikes at the restaurant and helps them book a cab or an app-based ride. “I will put the banner up and give a 10% discount to guests who arrive on xe ôm or taxi to encourage them to use public transportation,” he explained.

Some other proprietors, however, remain skeptical as few want to risk customer loyalty. N.Đ.V., who owns a nhậu place on Phạm Văn Đồng, explained to Tuổi Trẻ in an interview: “Calling the traffic police on customers that just drank at their place is hard to be done, I think. Even though some might sign an agreement to do so, that’s just signing for the sake of signing.”

Nhậu culture is a prevalent aspect of nightlife in Vietnam and Saigon, so drunk driving continues to be a leading cause of accidents on local roads. Lao Động cites statistics from the National Traffic Safety Committee showing that about 40% of all traffic accidents and 11% of traffic fatalities involve alcohol. Moreover, over 90% of those deaths are male, while the age group 15–29 accounts for nearly 60% of all accident-related deaths.

In an effort to curtail drunk driving, starting from 2020, Vietnam expanded the parameter for DUI penalties to any detectable blood alcohol level and all types of vehicles, including bicycles.