Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Drinking some beers is one of the greatest things to do in Vietnam where there are a lot of amazing beer foods, good local restaurants and bars. Two-thirds Vietnamese people drive home themselves after drinking and all of them violate Vietnamese laws. The ultimate guide to Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences provides necessary information about lastest laws, fines, penalties, tips avoiding violating Vietnamese road laws.

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Vietnam – the biggest beer market in Southeast Asia and a large number of traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers

In 2017, the trend of Vietnam’s beer and liquor consumption increasingly hiked, up by 90% over the past seven years. Until the end of 2019, Vietnam is the biggest beer market in Southeast Asia, the average consumption of beer and liquor in the country was nearly 9 liters.

68% of Vietnamese people insist on driving themselves home after drinking alcoholic drinks. In the first three quarters of 2019, there were over 12.675 road traffic accidents, leading to 5,526 deaths and 9,751 injuries in the country according to official data. Drunk driving cause 40 percent of road accidents.

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Decree No. 100/2019/ND-CP imposes stiff penalties for drunk driving

The Government issued Decree No. 100/2019/ND-CP on administrative sanctions for road traffic and rail transport violations, it took into effect on January 1, 2020. It has been said that the blanket ban on drunk driving of Vietnam does not spare any vehicle.

  • Three levels of fines and suspensions for drunk drivers in Vietnam since 1st January 2020 are in the following table.
Level (Blood/breath alcohol content)Means of transportationFines (million Vietnamese Dong)Suspensions (License is revoked for)
Level 1:

<=50 mg/100 ml of blood or <=0.25 mg/1l of breath

Car6 – 8 million10 – 12 months
Motorcycle2 – 3 million10 – 12 months
Bicycle, motorized bicycle80,000 – 100,000
Level 2:

>50 and <80 mg/100 ml of blood or >0.25 and < 0.4 mg/1l of breath

Car16 – 18 million16 – 18 months
Motorcycle4 – 5 million16 – 18 months
Bicycle, motorized bicycle200,000 – 400,000
Level 3:

>80 mg/100 ml of blood or >0.4 mg/1l of breath

Car30 – 40 million22 – 24 months
Motorcycle6 – 8 million22 – 24 months
Bicycle, motorized bicycle600,000 – 800,000
  • Ban alcoholic beverage advertisements on television and other media platforms between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Programs relayed from foreign broadcasters are not prohibited.
  • Ban advertising alcoholic beverages to people under 18 or employing underage actors in alcohol adverts.
  • Advertisements for drinks with an alcohol content above 15 percent are not allowed.
Do not drive motorbikes after drinking - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Do not drive motorbikes after drinking in Vietnam! These guys joined a Saigon Sightseeing Tour by motorbike with talented local guides (drivers).

Driving bicycles drunk in Vietnam is not allowed - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Driving bicycles drunk in Vietnam is not allowed.

Differences between Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia

Automobile drivers violate traffic laws if they have a certain level of breath or blood alcohol concentration in Southeast Asian countries. In Vietnam, automobile drivers and cyclists having any level of alcohol in blood or breath face charges and lose their driving licenses.

Differences between old decree 46/2016/ND-CP and new decree 100/2019/ND-CP

Before 1st January 2020, motorcyclists in Vietnam were allowed to have up to 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood or 0.25 ml of alcohol in one liter of breath according to the old decree 46/2016/ND-CP. Currently, motorcyclists having any level of alcohol in blood or breath are fined up to 40 million Vietnamese Dong, they also lose their driven licenses.

Before 1st January 2020, drunk cyclists were not punished. In recent, they are fined up to VND 600,000 – 800,000.

Pros of decree 100

  • The laws can restrict those who can produce alcohol and those who can buy it.
  • Drinking too many beers and alcoholic beverages is not good for health.
  • People in Vietnam spend less time on drinking and chatting leisurely with partners, friends who get addicted to beers and alcoholic drinks at “quán nhậu” restaurants. They may spend their valuable time with families or to work.
  • Signing contracts at “nhậu” (drinking) tables has become popular in Vietnam.
  • Two-thirds Vietnamese people drive after drinking and may cause accidents. The new laws are expected to decrease the number of traffic accidents.

Cons of decree 100

  • After eating litchis or drinking cough syrups, some people have a certain breath alcohol content.
  • A person, who drinks a 330-ml bottle of beer or 30 ml of wine with alcohol content 40%, should wait 2-3 hours before driving.
  • Beer sales, food and beverage sales at local restaurants have dropped by at least 25%.

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Consequences of the new ban on drunk driving in Vietnam

  • The number of road traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers decreased. According to the National Traffic Safety Committee of Vietnam, the number of traffic accidents, deaths and injuries in January 2020 is less than in January 2019.
Comparison of numbers of traffic accidents, deaths and injuries in January 2020 and January 2019 - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Comparison of numbers of traffic accidents, deaths and injuries in January 2020 and January 2019.

  • 6,279 drunk drivers have been punished and charged a total of 21 billion Vietnamese Dong in the first 15 days of 2020.
driving drunk and punished - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Driving drunk and punished in Vietnam.

  • Alcohol and beer sales in Vietnam have dropped by at least 25% since the first day of the new year 2020 when the tough new drunk driving law took effect.
 - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

There are dozens of beer names in Vietnam

  • The number of customers coming to local restaurants that specialize in beer and alcoholic foods (hot pots, grilled foods, snail & shellfish & seafood dishes, etc.) has decreased. Food and beverage sales at these restaurants have also dropped by up to 80%.
restaurant becomes sparse - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

After decree 100, this BBQ restaurant is nearly deserted, with only one female customer and a few waitresses in the dining area.

  • Many people take taxis, motorbike taxis or Grab rides to go home after drinking at restaurants, hosts’ houses, weddings and other occasions. Restaurants’ staff or drivers take customers home if they are drunk. Certainly, some fees are taken.
Beers are served at a wedding in Vietnam - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Beers are served at a wedding in Vietnam.

Gathering and Drinking alcohol at a local restaurant - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Gathering and drinking alcohol at a local restaurant.

Vietnamese and foreigners drink in Bui Vien Street in Saigon Backpacker Area

Vietnamese and foreigners drink in Bui Vien Street in Saigon Backpacker Area. Drunk people can catch taxis easily in this street.

Book a ride on GoViet and Grab, which usually provide promotions and better prices, to go home after drinking - Vietnam drunk driving laws, penalties and consequences

Book a ride on GoViet and Grab, which usually provide promotions and better prices, to go home after drinking.

How to avoid penalties for drunk driving? – Tips on driving, drinking and being driven by drunk drivers in Vietnam

  • Do not drive bicycle, motorcycle and automobile car right after drinking. Let a friend or partner drive you home. If all of you are drunk or you are alone, you can take a taxi, motorbike taxi, or book a car or motorbike ride on Grab, GoViet. You can tell the staff to help you to arrange the ride.
  • Some people recommend not to eat some fruits producing a high amount of ethanol. After eating lychees, grapes, durians, bananas and others, you may not pass a breath alcohol test. Unripe fruits contain zero ethanol, over-ripe fallen fruits contain 4.5% ethanol on an average.
  • According to associate professor Nguyen Duy Thinh, drivers should avoid eating fermented fruit products or foods containing ethanol (Braised/stewed beef with wine, Steamed shrimp/fish with beer, syrups, liquor chocolates, etc.). In case drivers eat these foods, they should wash their mouth carefully and wait for 30-60 minutes before driving.
  • However, Vietnamese policemen have confirmed that there has no driver punished after eating the fruits and foods containing an amount of ethanol. Doctor Nguyen Huy Quang – a member of the Ministry of Health (Vietnam), have the right to explain to policemen, they can wait for 30-60 minutes, then test your breath alcohol content again.
  • If you think that your driver has just drunk some beer or alcoholic drinks, ask him to stop and book another taxi or motorbike taxi.
  • Never allow your friend to drive drunk.
  • If you must drive home yourself after drinking but can not refuse to drink (at a wedding or party), you should not drink so much, wait for a few hours before driving.

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