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Drunk drivers should be charged criminally: Vietnam road directorate

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 18:26 GMT+7
Drunk drivers should be charged criminally: Vietnam road directorate
This file photo shows a driver blowing the pipe of a breathalyzer for a test at the request of a traffic police officer in Vietnam.

A criminal charge against drunk drivers or those steering overloaded trucks should be added to the Vietnamese Penal Code, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, under the Ministry of Transport, has recommended.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

>> Vietnam traffic safety committee wants drunk drivers to have their vehicles confiscated The directorate has suggested that the ministry ask law-making bodies to consider filing criminal charges against drunk drivers when their alcohol level is over 100 mg per 100 ml of blood or over 0.5 mg per liter of breath, local media reported, saying this suggestion is meant to improve road safety. These proposed levels are higher than those at which drivers will be given the highest penalties in accordance with Government Decree 171/2013 on violations of traffic rules, said Nguyen Van Huyen, chief of the directorate. Under the decree, drivers with alcohol levels of over 80 mg per 100 ml of blood or over 0.4 mg per liter of breath will be subject to the heaviest punishment, Huyen said. He elaborated that such drivers will be fined VND10-15 million (US$465-697.5) if they are driving an automobile and VND2-3 million ($93-139.5) if they are driving a motorbike. The lawbreakers will have their vehicles impounded for a week and their driver’s licenses revoked for two months, the directorate chief noted. A criminal treatment of drunk drivers is a necessary measure to lower the number of traffic accidents caused by drunk driving, Huyen said. In many other countries, drunk drivers may be prosecuted and face jail terms, in addition to pecuniary fines and revocation of driver’s licenses, he added. As for drivers of vehicles overloaded with goods, they should be charged criminally when they repeat the act of carrying a load over 150 percent of the highest allowable volume after they have already been given an administrative fine for the same behavior, the official said. Driving vehicles that way has become common in Vietnam, posing threats to other drivers and damaging many roads, Huyen said.

Earlier this month, the National Traffic Safety Committee suggested that the government approve new and heavier penalties for drunk drivers of both automobiles and motorbikes, and for drivers of overloaded trucks.

Accordingly, drivers of automobiles with alcohol levels of over 0.4 mg per liter of breath or over 80 mg per 100 ml of blood will have the vehicles they have driven confiscated – not merely impounded as under current regulations – and they must also take an exam on road traffic rules if they want to get a driver’s license again.

Drivers of motorbikes with alcohol levels of over 80 mg per 100 ml of blood or over 0.4 mg per liter of breath will have the vehicles they are driving confiscated – not merely impounded as under current regulations.

These propositions have become a bone of contention among the public and regulatory agencies that question the legal foundation of such confiscation as well as the feasibility of this measure, as the violators may not be the owners of the vehicles they are driving.

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