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Vietnam: Stricter Measures Against Drunk Driving

(Mar. 2, 2009) On February 17, 2009, the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam announced new, more stringent measures against drunk driving. The provisions, which amend the Law on Road Traffic passed in November 2008 by the National Assembly, stipulate, among other changes:

· a zero blood alcohol limit for drivers of automobiles, tractors, and specialized land vehicles;

· the requirement that electric bike riders wear helmets;

· a legal alcohol limit for motorbike riders of 50mg/100ml of blood or 0.25mg/liter in breath tests; and

· if vehicle owners' employees or representatives break the law while obeying the employer's instructions, the owners will be held liable.

Additional provisions include:

· Pedestrians, "contraptions" and specialized vehicles, and motorcycles whose maximum speed is under 70 km/h are banned on highways; and

· Two adults may not be accompanied by a person over the age of 14 on a motorcycle or over the age of 7 on a bicycle.

The Law is in eight chapters and 89 articles, with 18 new provisions and about three-fourths of the old articles amended. (Culture & Society: Vietnam Announces Zero Alcohol Law for Car Drivers, Helmets for Electric Bike Riders, VIETNAM PANORAMA GENERAL NEWS, Feb. 18, 2009 [Emerging Markets Information Service database], available at
; Zero Alcohol Law for Car Drivers, LOOKATVIETNAM, Feb. 18, 2009, available at; Road Traffic Laws Set for Sea Change, SAI GON GIAI PHONG NEWSPAPER [an organ of the Party Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam in Ho Chi Minh City],Feb. 18, 2009, available at

In connection with motorcycles, moreover, it was reported in October 2008 that the Health Ministry had issued a decision banning people who weigh less than 40 kilograms (88 lbs) or who are less than 145 centimeters (4'9") tall from holding an A1 motorcycle license, regardless of age. The decision also required that drivers of cars for private use that have up to nine seats must be over 150 centimeters (4'11") tall. In addition, the decision set forth "[c]omprehensive health requirements relating to mental health, heart conditions and vision." However, persons 16 years of age or older will still be permitted to ride motorcycles under 50cc without a license, and the minimum age requirement of 18 will remain as the threshold for applications for A1 licenses for motorbikes of 50cc and above. In the view of many doctors, according to the news report, "such detailed health examinations conducted for the purpose of license application were unrealistic because it would take more time and require greater fees from the applicants." (New License Requirements Trouble Drivers, Contradict Law, LOOKATVIETNAM, Oct. 16, 2008, available at