Seizing motorbikes from drunk drivers, a case of law going overboard

By Nguyen Van Hau*, TN News

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A motorbike driver being tested for alcohol on a Hanoi street. Photo: Ha An A motorbike driver being tested for alcohol on a Hanoi street. Photo: Ha An

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It is an unreasonable proposal by the National Traffic Safety Committee to seize the motorbikes of drunk drivers in addition to slapping a fine.
It is too stringent a punishment considering the nature of the violation.
The vehicle seizure will bring complicated legal problems, especially where the driver is not the owner of the vehicle. After all, people often borrow or rent motorbikes.
The seizure will conflict with provisions of the Civil Code stipulating the right to own, lend and lease property.
The government has many other ways of ensuring traffic safety: It can step up propaganda to raise people’s awareness of traffic safety, upgrade infrastructure, improve the work of the traffic police, etc.
Traffic regulation has problems, especially when drivers bribe police officers to avoid fines. Preventing this is one important solution.
However, the National Traffic Safety Committee seems to focus only on punitive measures when it seeks to seize motorbikes driving on expressways and of drunk drivers.
This is a wrongful notion since we live in a civil and civilized society with a “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Besides, there is no evidence that stricter fines have a deterrent effect or improve traffic safety.
The Traffic Law affects almost everyone and an unreasonable regulation causes significant damage because motorbikes are people’s primary means of transport to work every day.
Besides, seizing the vehicles of drunk drivers can lead to increased bribery -- with people paying police officers to keep their vehicles -- and litigation.
The draft regulations on measures to address traffic violations need to be placed before the public for opinions if they are to represent people’s wishes.
* The writer is a lawyer who lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City. The opinions expressed are his own.

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