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Vietnam: Stiffer Penalties for Drunk Driving and Other Offenses

(June 20, 2016) On May 26, 2016, the Vietnamese government issued Decree No. 46/2016/ND-CP, on administrative sanctions for road traffic and rail transport violations. Most of the provisions enter into force on August 1, 2016.  The new Decree replaces Decree 171 of 2013 and Decree 107 of 2014.  (Stiffer Fines Await Drunk Drivers, VIETNAM LAW & LEGAL FORUM (June 1, 2016); Decree: Provisions of Administrative Sanctions in Road Traffic and Rail Transport, art. 80, THU VIEN PHAP LUAT, No. 46/2016/ND-CP (May 26, 2016) (in Vietnamese).)

The decree increases fines for some traffic safety offenses with a view to “improving public awareness about traffic safety and reducing traffic accidents.” (Stiffer Fines Await Drunk Drivers, supra.)  These two aims are specific goals of the country’s long-term national road safety strategy for the period 2012-2020.  (Decision: Approval of the National Road Safety Strategy by 2020 and a Vision to 2030, No. 1586/QD-TTg (Oct. 24, 2012), World Health Organization website.) That plan seeks, among other objectives, to annually reduce by a certain percentage the number of deaths from road traffic accidents; reduce road congestion in major cities; improve law enforcement’s capacity to ensure traffic safety; and develop awareness among traffic participants, especially drivers, of the need to comply with the law. (Id.)

Drunk Driving Fines

In regard to drunk driving, the Decree provides that the offense of driving under the influence or refusing to comply with a police-ordered alcohol or drug test will be subject to a fine of up to VND18 million (about US$814). “Specifically, drivers with alcohol exceeding 80mg per 100ml of blood or 0.4mg per liter of breath will be fined VND 16-18 million, instead of VND 10-15 million [about US$452-$678] as at present.”  (Stiffer Fines Await Drunk Drivers, supra.)  The authorities will withdraw, for 22 to 24 months, the driver’s licenses of persons found guilty of drugged driving; those without a license or whose licenses have been withdrawn who are driving under the influence will face a fine of VND16-18 million. (Id.)

Fines for Some Other Driving Offenses

A new provision punishes steering a vehicle with one’s feet with a fine of VND7-8 million. Acts of speeding or recklessly swerving a vehicle will incur the same level of fine.  (Id.)  Vehicle operators who do not follow a police order to stop or who cause traffic accidents will be subject to a fine of VND18-20 million.  (Id.)

The decree significantly increases the fine for “those who use umbrellas, earphones or mobile phones while riding motorbikes or electric bikes,” from the current VND60,000-80,000 (about US$2.71-$3.62) to VND100,000-200,000 (about US$4.52-$9.04). (Id.)  Motorbike riders and pillion passengers (above six years of age) who ride without helmets or wear them “incorrectly” will also face the VND100,000-200,000 fine.  (Id.)