Saigon woman jailed for fatal drunk driving accident

By Hai Duyen   June 16, 2019 | 11:09 pm PT
Saigon woman jailed for fatal drunk driving accident
Nguyen Thi Nga stands trial in HCMC on Monday for a car crash that killed one and injured five people last October. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen.
A HCMC court on Monday sentenced a drunk driver involved in a fatal car crash last October to three years and six months in jail.  

Nguyen Thi Nga, 47, was charged with "violating road traffic regulations," an offense punishable by up to 10 years in jail under Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Nga did not have a valid driving license and had drunk a lot of beer, prosecutors told the court. Her actions were extremely dangerous to society, and showed disregard for the lives of others, the court heard Monday morning.

However, the judges said her "good background" and the fact that she had compensated the victim's family warranted leniency.

Nga, a restaurant owner, admitted that she was learning to drive at the time she caused the accident in her BMW car, and that she had drunk a lot of beer earlier that night.

She was speeding on Dien Bien Phu Street when she lost control and crashed her car into five motorbikes waiting at the Hang Xanh intersection traffic lights at around 11 p.m. on October 21.

The car only came to a halt after ramming into a taxi. A 38-year-old woman died immediately and five others were injured.

Tests showed alcohol content of 0.94 milligrams per liter in her blood. The alcohol level allowed for car drivers in Vietnam was zero, and 0.25 milligrams per liter for motorbike drivers. The new Law on Preventing Alcohol’s Harmful Effects, to be effective next year, yet rules that any amount of alcohol found in a person’s system will result in his/her driving license being revoked.

After the accident, Nga gave VND150 million ($6,400) to the dead victim's family to support funeral services and suggested a monthly maintenance allowance of VND3 million to help the victim's daughter attend school. However, the victim's family rejected the allowance offer and had demanded a compensation of VND2 billion.

The final compensation she paid has not been disclosed. Local reports had said the victim's family had requested authorities that Nga is not jailed so that she can continue to pay compensation, and that her lawyer had argued that she was not as rich as generally assumed.

Road accidents are a leading killer in Vietnam, with one person dying almost every hour. More than 18,720 accidents occurred in 2018, killing 8,244 people and injuring nearly 14,800, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.

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