Fermented fruit lovers can breathe a sigh of relief now police have confirmed that blood-alcohol levels fall rapidly after consumption, meaning it's fine for them to drive home without being over the limit.
Checking alcohol level on Tran Khat Chan street, Hanoi (Photo: VNA)
The alcohol level created by eating a small amount of fermented fruit or cough syrup generally dissipated within two to five minutes after consumption, Lieutenant General Vu Do Anh Dung, head of the Traffic Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, told Giao Thong (Transport) newspaper.
Since Decree 100/2019 and the Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention which bans drivers from drinking any alcohol took effect on January 1, drivers have raised concerns about eating fermented fruit or cough medicine.
At an online conference held by Giao Thong newspaper this week, Major Dao Viet Long, deputy head of Hanoi’s Traffic Police, said among the 84 cases in the city in the first seven days of this year, none involved drivers that had eaten fruit.
Drivers were allowed to request a second breathalyser test if they wanted to prove they hadn't been drinking. They could also wait until the alcohol on their breath reached zero to take the test one more time, he said.
Since the new law took effect, drivers face stiff penalties if they are found to have consumed alcohol.
The maximum punishment for car drivers is a fine of 40 million VND (1,740 USD), and a two-year ban.
Drunk motorbike drivers may face an 8 million VND (348 USD) penalty and have their driving licences revoked for two years.
Those who ride bicycles are subject to fines ranging from 400,000 VND (174 USD) to 600,000 VND (261 USD) if they drink.
Bui Sy Loi, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee of Social Affairs, said on the first six days of the new year, the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents decreased by four compared to previous years.
“I believe that the new regulation has brought a sense of relief to people. They are reminding each other not to drink and drive at parties, which is a positive sign,” he told the conference.
According to Tran Thi Xuan Hang from the Ministry of Health's Legal Affairs Department, the Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention also regulates locations that were allowed to sell alcohol, and includes stricter regulations on alcohol advertising.
Since January 1, off licences have been within a 100m radius from educational and healthcare facilities.
The new law also stiffens penalties on driving without helmets, jumping traffic lights and taking the wrong lane.
Hang said the strict regulations were necessary because Vietnam had one of the highest consumption rates of alcohol in the world. In the past five years, the level of pure alcohol consumed by each person increased from 6.6 litres to 8.3 litres.
The ban on alcohol while driving was strongly supported by National Assembly deputies, and lawmakers looked to international examples for guidance.
Khuat Viet Hung, Vice Chairman of the National Committee on Traffic Safety, said putting Decree 100 into practice had demonstrated the determination of authorities to stop drink driving. Ten years ago, the regulation on wearing helmets was enforced amid controversy. Now an estimated 15,000 lives had been saved and 500,000 head injuries had been prevented. This helped the country save a staggering 5.3 billion USD.
It shows that as long as the Government and ministries were determined, they would be successful, he said. VNA
Normally, Thanh Nhan Hospital in Hanoi admits about 100-130 patients per day, but the number of emergency cases fell to 60-70 last week.
Restaurants are reporting a sharp fall in the number of customers after a few days the new fines on drink driving took effect.
Bicycle drivers shall be subject to a VND400,000-600,000 (US$17.3-26) fine if found riding after drinking alcohol.