Back Stories » Vietnam » Fines, Bans, Ukuleles: Vietnamese Authorities Finally Get Strict on Drink-Driving

Fines, Bans, Ukuleles: Vietnamese Authorities Finally Get Strict on Drink-Driving


On January 1, Vietnam enacted legislation that makes operating any motorbike, car or bicycle with a blood alcohol level over zero illegal. Authorities have been swift to respond.

Driving after having a few drinks is not an uncommon practice in Vietnam. However, the frequency with which alcohol-related accidents occur is worrying.

Under the new law, car drivers who drive while drunk can be fined up to VND40 million and have their license revoked for two years, while motorbike drivers can be fined VND8 million and also lose their license.

Tuoi Tre reports that bicyclists will also be fined VND400,000–600,000 if they are discovered cycling after drinking alcohol from January 1.

The strict penalties are aimed at curbing Vietnam's high drunk driving rates and ensuing traffic accidents. More than two-thirds of drinkers prefer to drive themselves home after drinking, so when faced with the consequences of the new law, some have opted to avoid going out to drink altogether.

The effects of skipping night time drinking sessions have hit local businesses hard. VnExpress reported this morning that restaurant and beer club sales have fallen by 50%. 

In response to the law, and following a decline in customers due to motorbike drivers’ fear of being caught by police, bars and restaurants across the country are offering transportation services for patrons. 

Tuoi Tre reports that establishments serving alcohol have since introduced a variety of services to allow customers to drink and return home without breaking the law. 

To entice customers to continue drinking, bars and restaurants are offering to drive customers home, and in some cases providing discounts for ride-hailing services or taxis and allowing for overnight parking. A beer joint in Thu Duc has mobilized some staff members to help intoxicated patrons home.

“We have a team of employees to take you home. All you have to do is enjoy the time with your friends and family at our restaurant. Your safety is our top priority,” a notice at one establishment reads.

According to VnExpress, a South Korean man named Choi Won-ouk was one of the first to be caught drunk driving. He was handed a fine of VND35 million (US$1,500) and had his license revoked for a period of just under two years.

Between January 1, when nationwide enforcement of the law began, and January 4, 668 drunk drivers were fined a total of roughly VND890 million (US$38,350), according to Nguyen Quang Nhat, an officer with the traffic police department under the Ministry of Public Security.

While critics contend the laws are too strict or ineffective, officials are quick to point out that similar laws are more severe in many other countries, and can include jail time. Moreover, to further address the issue, the penalties are also supported by education efforts, stringent regulations on advertising, and alcohol tax increases.

One of the more comical stories to emerge on the topic was about a Russian man who, after being stopped by police for not wearing a helmet, started playing a ukulele. Police then breathalyzed the man, named Aleks Ivanov, but found no traces of alcohol. 

Ivanov was instead given a VND300,000 fine (US$13) for driving without a helmet and another VND1,200,000 (US$52) for not presenting a driver’s license. 

On the bright side, hospitals in Hanoi have already announced fewer traffic accident-related admissions

[Top photo via Needpix]

Related Articles

in Vietnam

$14 Million Approved For Restoration Of Hanoi’s 112-Year-Old Long Biên Bridge

The fate of one of Vietnam’s most beloved and storied structures took another positive turn last week when the government approved a $14 million restoration package for Long Biên Bridge.

in Vietnam

'Amazing Race Vietnam' Apologizes for Challenge Harming Coral Reef

An underwater challenge during this year’s installment of The Amazing Race Vietnam is not sitting well with environmentalists.

in Vietnam

10 Killed, Over 30 Missing in Central and Northern Vietnam as Storm Son-Tinh Brings Flash Floods

Heavy rains from storm Son-Tinh, which eventually weakened to a tropical depression, have caused flash floods and fatalities in central Vietnam.

in Vietnam

104-Year-Old Great-Great Grandmother Fights Off Robber

Taking advantage of the elderly will inevitably result in some bad karma, a lesson a Dong Nai man quickly learned after attempting to rob Vo Thi Bai, a 104-year-old woman.

in Vietnam

116-Year-Old Recognized As Vietnam's Oldest Man

The Vietnam Record Organization (VRO) has recognized 116-tear-old Y'N Dong of Đắk Nông Province as the country’s oldest man, reports Vietnam Net.

in Vietnam

12 Dead, 41 Injured After Illegal Bus Falls Into Gorge Near Sapa

12 people have been reported killed and 41 injured in a bus accident in the hills of Northern Vietnam’s Lao Cai province, reports VN Express.

Partner Content