Checking alcohol level on Trần Khát Chân Street, Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — 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.
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 Vũ Đỗ Anh Dũng, head of the Traffic Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, told Giao Thông (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 Thông newspaper on Thursday, Major Đào Việt Long, deputy head of Hà Nội’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 VNĐ40 million (US$1,740), and a two-year ban.
Drunk motorbike drivers may face an VNĐ8 million ($348) penalty and have their driving licences revoked for two years.
Those who ride bicycles are subject to fines ranging from VNĐ400,000 ($174) to VNĐ600,000 ($261) if they drink.
Bùi Sỹ Lợi, 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 Trần Thị Xuân Hằng 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 01, 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.
Hằng said the strict regulations were necessary because Việt Nam 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.
Khuất Việt Hùng, 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 US$5.3 billion.
It shows that as long as the Government and ministries were determined, they would be successful, he said. — VNS