On January 01, 2020, two significant legal documents of the country in a decade came into force which aim to impose heavier punishment against drivers who have alcohol on their breath: Law No. 44/2019/QH14 on prevention and control of harmful effects of alcoholic beverages (“Law 44”) and its supporting regulation, Decree No. 100/2019/ND-CP prescribing administrative penalties for violations arising from road and rail traffic activities (“Decree 100”).

According to the World Health Organization, 40% of traffic accidents in Vietnam are linked to drinking. Drunk drivers with high alcohol levels could result in traffic accidents with negative consequences. The country has experienced this situation for years. Alcohol consumption has increased dramatically in Vietnam, rising nearly 90% since 2010, the highest in the world, according to a study published by The Lancet in May 2019. This time, more new significant laws focus on the serious question of reducing harmful effects of alcohol.

Article 5 of Law 44 regulates that: “operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol is a prohibited act”, Decree 100 has imposed heavier punishment for drivers with alcohol on their breath, even at the lowest level, which means not exceeding 50 mg/100ml or 0, 25 mg/l. Drivers could be fined VND 6,000,000 – 8,000,000 just for drinking one gulp of alcohol, which was not the case under the old Law No.23/2008/QH12 on Road Traffic.

From the moment the new laws were released, a public debate has been ignited between the law supporters and those who think it’s not appropriate to reduce the alcohol level and increase the penalties. While the law protesters are likely to be just a minority, specifically among some lawmakers who were unconvincingly standing for their perspective in the debate at the National Assembly, it nonetheless spotlights the thinking of people of a drinking culture in Vietnam.


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