Ride-hailing services thrive under new DUI law

By Thi Ha, Anh Tu   January 17, 2020 | 03:18 pm GMT+7
Ride-hailing services thrive under new DUI law
A Grab driver picks up a customer in front of a restaurant in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Tu.
Ride-hailing and taxi drivers report a customer number surge of up to 20 percent as Vietnam puts cap on drunk driving.

As a regular partygoer in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 3, Hoa recently decided to only use ride-hailing services after being fined for driving under the influence.

"I’d rather pay a VND100,000 ($4.3) fare than lose VND3 million ($130) in fines," she said.

Duc Huy, an office worker in Cau Giay District of Hanoi, said he was surprised last week when all his friends attended a party by taxi or ride-hailing motorbikes.

He himself started a new habit of ordering a ride to restaurants if he plans to drink. "The extra costs are only a fraction of the fines, but most importantly, I’ll be safe on the way home."

For the last two weeks, restaurants and beer clubs across Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have seen a rising number of taxis and ride-hailing drivers gather to drop off or pick up customers, especially around 9 p.m.

The change occurred after a decree preventing alcohol's harmful effects came into effect on January 1, imposing stiff penalties for drunk driving.

Cyclists and electric bicycle riders face fines of VND400,000-600,000 ($17-26) for drunk cycling. Motorcyclists and car drivers can be fined up to VND6-8 million ($259-345) and VND30-40 million ($1,300-1,725), double the old levels, while car drivers could have their licenses suspended for 22-24 months.

Ride-hailing drivers have been reporting increasing revenue since the new fines took effect.

Tien, a GrabBike driver in HCMC, said he has been shifting his work hours to later in the evening because of rising demand.

"My income has risen by 10 percent to VND600,000 ($26) a day compared to before."

Traditional taxis seem to also benefit from the new law as drivers say the number of customers have increased by 20 percent compared to a month ago.

A senior official at a taxi firm in HCMC said since the new DUI fine took effect, the number of vouchers sold to businesses have doubled compared to last year’s average.

A representative from ride-hailing company Go-Viet said, without revealing specific figures, there has been rising demand in the first 10 days this month.

The company plans to offer more evening rides to encourage drinkers to use ride-hailing services.

Grab also plans to partner with restaurants and eateries to encourage customers to use its services.

Vietnam’s beer market growth is expected to be slower this year with the new law, according to a forecast by top brokerage SSI Securities Corporation.

The country consumed some 4.6 billion liters of beer in 2019 after rising 10 percent from 2018, but growth could fall to 6-7 percent this year, it added.

 
 
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