Impunity remains a problem as Vietnamese continue to drink and drive

By Ba Do   June 10, 2019 | 11:11 pm PT
Impunity remains a problem as Vietnamese continue to drink and drive
A traffic police officer checks a driver's breath in Hanoi last month. Photo by VnExpress/ Giang Chinh.
239 drivers have tested positive for drugs in Vietnam this year and 73,164 were drunk driving.

Officers also collected almost VND2 trillion in fines ($85.8 million) from nearly 1.9 million other traffic violations, the Department of Traffic Police under the Ministry of Public Security said on Monday.

While both the number of violations and fines were slightly down, driving under the influence has been a major problem in Vietnam, one that has killed and injured many people.

In January, a truck driver slammed into motorbikes waiting at a traffic light in the southern Long An Province, killing four people and injuring 16 others. Later that same month, a truck hit a group of pedestrians on a highway in northern Hai Duong Province, killing eight people and leaving another eight injured. The Long An driver was later found to have been high on liquor and heroin, while the other one was high on meth.

In April, a drunk driver hit and killed a sanitation worker in Hanoi. She had been cleaning the street when the car lost control and slammed into her. The alcohol level in the driver's breath was high, and he was not sober enough to talk to the police until the next morning.

Another accident a week later claimed two lives when a drunk driver plowed into a motorbike. He admitted he had drunk six beers and alcohol before the accident.

While drug use is illegal in Vietnam, alcohol is not.

A survey found that 90 percent of people drive after drinking alcohol despite knowing it is illegal, Tran Huu Minh, a representative of the National Traffic Safety Committee, said.

Experts said the lenient penalties for drunk driving are to blame. Violators can be fined VND500,000-18 million ($21.50 - $770) and have their licenses revoked for one to five months.

The increasing number of drunk drivers shows that "punishments are not strong enough to deter the behavior," Phan Thi Thu Hien, deputy director of the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, said.

Last month over 8,000 people marched in Hanoi to protest against drunk driving following a spate of accidents involving alcohol consumption.

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