Vietnam starts cracking down on DUI drivers with hefty fines

Beware DUI drivers: driving your motorbike after downing a few beers might cost you US$800, in accordance with a new law stipulating stricter penalties for drunk drivers that came into effect this month.

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Government Decree No. 46 took effect on August 1, raising the financial penalty and establishing a strong legal framework for handling several traffic violations, including DUI (driving under the influence) violations.

Earlier this week, police in several big cities, including Hanoi, Da Nang, and Can Tho, simultaneously launched campaigns to reduce drunk driving by imposing the new punishments set forth in Decree No. 46.

In Da Nang, the campaign was a success, leaving many of the city’s drunk drivers with a valuable lesson after local traffic police mounted it on Tuesday.

Chu Manh, 37, was riding a motorcycle when he heard the whistle from the traffic police. After stopping his vehicle, he respectfully handed all his papers to the officers before walking away and leaving his motorcycle at the scene.

Huynh C., who registered a breathalyzer reading of 0.52 mg/l, several times higher than the legal amount, was shocked when police levied a VND17 million (US$762) fine against him.

He argued for several minutes before signing the paperwork.

Even with the assistance of the new law, catching drunk drivers is still not an easy job for traffic police.

Vu Duc V., 62, insisted that he keep his car despite a breathalyzer reading above 0.40 mg/l, grounds for police to temporarily impound his vehicle.

V. agreed to sign the paperwork and gave the officers his papers, but pleaded to drive his wife home because his small children were waiting.

It took the officers almost an hour to convince V. to give up his plea and take a taxi home with his wife, a solution which cost his children a few minutes of waiting, but might have saved their parents’ lives.

Some drunk drivers stopped during the campaign refused to blow into the breathalyzer, while others opted to blow softly into the tube, hoping to trick the high-tech device.

Colonel Le Van Luc, deputy director of Da Nang’s traffic police, revealed that officers were patrolling on several of the city’s major roads, including Pham Van Dong, Cach Mang Thang Tam, Nguyen Tat Thanh, and others.

“We do not patrol near restaurants or pubs in order to avoid disturbing locals and visitors. I would like to affirm that we will do our best to enforce the law, without relenting under any kind of pressure,” Luc said.

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