New year decree to fine drunken cyclists

By Doan Loan, Ba Do   December 31, 2019 | 04:00 am PT
New year decree to fine drunken cyclists
Traffic police write tickets against a group of cyclists for encroaching on car lanes in Ho Chi Minh City, November 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Son Hoa.
Starting Wednesday, cyclists and electric bike riders across Vietnam face fines of up to VND600,000 ($26) if found driving under the influence.

This is the first time Vietnam is imposing punishments for drunken cyclists and electric bike riders.

The new decree says that bicycle and electric bike riders with alcohol present in their blood/breath could be fined between VND80,000 ($3.46) and VND600,000 ($26).

Specifically, riders with alcohol levels that don’t exceed 50 mg/100 ml of blood, or 0.25 mg/1 liter on a breathalyzer would be fined between VND80,000 to VND100,000. The fines would go up to between VND200,000 and VND300,000 for levels of 50 to 80 mg/100 ml of blood or 0.25 to 0.4 mg/1 liter, and between VND400,000 and VND600,000 for levels that exceed 80 mg/100 ml of blood, or 0.4 mg/1 liter.

The new decree was issued Monday in line with law on preventing alcohol’s harmful effects passed by the National Assembly in June. The law, which will go into effect starting 2020, also bans all people found with alcohol in their systems from driving. Motorbike and car violators are currently fined VND500,000-18 million ($21.63 - $778.62) and have their licenses revoked for one to five months.

Alcohol, especially beer, is widely consumed in Vietnam. Data collected by the Ministry of Health shows Vietnamese citizens consumed 305 million liters of liquor and 4.1 billion liters of beer in 2017, making it the biggest alcohol consumer in Southeast Asia and third biggest in Asia after Japan and China.

The country spends an average $3.4 billion on alcohol each year, or 3 percent of the government’s budget revenue, according to official data. The figure translates to $300 per person while spending on health averages $113 per person, according to the Ministry of Health.

40 percent of traffic accidents in Vietnam are linked to excessive drinking, according to the WHO, which said it was an alarming rate for a country where road crashes kill a person every hour, on average.

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