Vietnam metro proposes banning late-night alcohol sales, again

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Ho Chi Minh City police have yet again sought local government approval to ban the sale of beer and liquor after 11 p.m. in the hopes of reducing accidents caused by drunk driving.


It was actually merely a revised draft proposal that was rejected last month, which sought to ban all alcohol sales past 10 p.m. 


Senior lieutenant-colonel Tran Thanh Tra, chief of the HCMC Police Department's Road and Railway Police Office, made the statement at a meeting Tuesday.


Tra said 70 percent of accidents are caused by drivers who had consumed alcohol before driving, saying that "accidents usually happen between 6 p.m. and midnight.


"Drinking after 11 p.m. not only causes accidents but also disrupts public order," he said.


Ngo Minh Chau, deputy chief of the HCMC Police Department, said the number of traffic accidents over recent holidays and weekends skyrocketed due to drunk driving.


"Currently, we can control vehicles on the road but alcohol sellers remain unfettered.


"Police cannot ensure that all drivers will be sober."


According to the HCMC Traffic Safety Committee, there were 1,533 traffic accidents over the first four months of this year that killed 247 people up 24 percent over last year while more than 1,000 others have been injured in crashes so far this year.


The city has more than 5.6 million registered motorbikes and about 550,000 cars, including the more than 82,800 motorbikes and 4,200 cars which were registered during the first quarter of 2013.


In Vietnam, one's blood alcohol content (BAC) must be under 50mg/100ml equal to one can of beer or 30 milliners of brandy to legally operate a motorbike. The threshold for those who drive cars is zero.


Chau, the police official, also proposed that the local government order all restaurants and bars to post signboards that warn customers not to drive after drinking similar to the health warnings on tobacco products.


Nguyen Huu Tin, deputy chairman of the HCMC People's Committee, said it is still mulling over the prospective ban on the sales of beer and alcohol past 11 p.m.


Tin said the most urgent task facing traffic police is catch drunk drivers throughout the city.

A number of foreign tourists who visit HCMC have also lamented about the unusual lack of night life here in the southern economic hub.

Night life at tourist staples in the city is most confined to bars or going to bed, they say.







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