Drunk driving penalties need to be tougher, more liberal

By Dinh Van   November 17, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
Drunk driving penalties need to be tougher, more liberal
A car is damaged as the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol and caused an accident in the northern Bac Giang Province, June 2022. Photo by police
Vietnam's drunk driving laws will be more reasonable if penalties are progressively severe based on alcohol content and has some tolerance for low levels.

Now any amount of alcohol in the breathalyzer results in the driver being fined and having their license revoked.

There have been discussions once in a while about whether there should be a green zone where a certain amount of alcohol could be allowed.

I think the law should be both stricter and more tolerant.

Earlier this month in HCMC, a car driver who had been at a drinking party hit a series of parked cars and motorbikes, killing an 18-year-old girl.

The alcohol level was 188.8 mg/100 ml of blood, way above the level of 80 which attracts the maximum penalty of a VND40-million (US$1,650) fine and 24-month license revocation.

Such a fine is too little for rich people.

And many drive around without carrying a license anyway, and so the revocation means nothing to them.

We should learn from other countries and impose heavier punishments such as jail time, community service and public shaming of violators.

We must hit their freedom and dignity to deter them.

Right now a drunk driver only faces jail time in Vietnam if they cause an accident that injures or kills someone.

On the other hand, there should be a green zone for people who test positive for alcohol just because they had eaten some food along with just a bit of alcohol. I think traffic and health officials can advise our lawmakers what levels are harmful and what are not.

The law should be both fair and deterrent.

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