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Who pays for parking fines in Vietnam? You or the café owner?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 18:11 GMT+7

With the ‘sidewalk reclamation’ campaign continuing in District 1 and several other neighborhoods of Ho Chi Minh City, chances are that if your motorbike or car is parked outside a café or an eatery, it will be slapped with a ticket. But who will pay the fine?

It is common practice in Vietnam for customers to leave their vehicles outside a service venue, usually parked on the pavement. Some venues have attendants to look after their customers’ vehicles, but some do not.

Suppose members of the ‘sidewalk clearing’ team arrive to check the street where your motorbike is parked, while you are enjoying coffee inside. How will the law deal with this violation?

According to government decree No.46 issued in 2016, there are two kinds of administrative road traffic violations taking place, with corresponding fines.

If a customer leaves his motorbike on the pavement of his own accord, he has committed an act of “leaving motorbikes on the street or the pavement against the law,” which carries a fine of between VND100,000 (US$4.46) and VND200,000 ($8.93).

However, if a customer gives his vehicle to an attendant to look after, it is the venue owner who is deemed to be “occupying the street or the pavement to open a parking lot.”

Fines for this type of violation range from VND2 million ($89) to VND15 million ($670).  If the offender is an organization, then fines increase to between VND4 million ($179) and VND30 million ($1,339).

As for cars, the violation could be for “parking on the road in nonurban areas” or “parking on the sidewalk against the law,” carrying fines from VND300,000 ($13.4) to VND400,000 ($17.8), and from VND600,000 ($26.8) to VND800,000 ($35.7), respectively.

Determine the correct violator

“The first thing to do when handing out a civil fine is to identify the violator,” lawyer Tran Cong Ly Tao, from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“If the illegal parking is done by the vehicle owner himself, he will be fined.

“On the other hand, if the customer has handed his motorbike to the venue owner to look after, through a ‘contract of mouth’ or a ‘parking receipt’, the latter will be held responsible.”

At some café’s or shops, security guards will normally ask customers to go inside the venue, implying that he will look after their motorbikes. In other cases, guards will give customers a sheet of paper as ‘receipt’ that he will keep an eye on their bikes.

According to lawyer Tao, it is the responsibility of the shop owner to find a legal parking space for their customers.

“If they simply leave the motorbike on the sidewalk, they should be fined and in no way should the customers be sanctioned,” he said.

Lawyer Tran Thi Mien, also from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, noted that there are cases in which both the customers and the store owners are fined, which she said is incorrect.

“The principle here is that only the direct violator is fined, and one violation is fined only once,” she said, implying that one cannot fine a customer for the same violation used to determine the penalty for the shop owner.

“In this case, either the customers or shop owners can lodge a complaint and even bring law enforcement officers to court for their wrongdoing,” she said.

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