Bars in Vietnam have come up with a creative way to get patrons home safely since tough new drink-driving laws came in over the New Year.

Beer halls have started to offer their own transport services, as many drinkers are wary of the hefty fines they face if they take to their cars, motorbikes or even bicycles while under the influence, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reports.

The new law stipulates that drivers must be "completely sober while operating vehicles", on pain of much higher fines than before, as well as running the risk of having their driving licenses revoked for up to two years.

The traffic police are not easing drivers gently into the New Year, either, as they imposed fines worth a total of $38,350 (£29,000) on 668 drunk road-users in the first four days of January alone, the Ministry of Public Security told the VnExpress paper.

Many Vietnamese now prefer to skip a night down the bar to avoid a big hit on their wallets.

Numbers are certainly down significantly at one bar on Pham Van Dong Street in Ho Chi Minh City, where the manager told Tuoi Tre that guests are opting for water or soft drinks over beer - even at traditionally bibulous wedding parties.

"I believe the situation is the same at beer halls across country," he added.

Not only bars are suffering. Nguyen Truong Tai said sales of alcoholic drinks were down 20-30% in the past week at his seafood restaurant in the central city of Da Nang.

Providing transport is one solution, and one bar in the Thu Duc District of Ho Chi Minh City has put up an eye-catching poster advertising its new service.

"We have a team of employees to take you home. All you have to do is enjoy your time with friends and family at our restaurant. Your safety is our top priority," the ad reads.

The manager, Mr Phat, says his staff will ferry customers home by car or motorbike, or help them book a cab or motorbike taxi "if all of our employees are occupied during peak hours".

Price rises

Some venues in Thu Duc let customers leave their vehicles overnight if they choose to catch a taxi home, but no one can beat bar owner Dang Thai Hien in the southern city of Can Tho, who has hired two new employees to provide free rides home for her lucky customers.

"We are planning to organise free transport services for our guests with local cab and motorbike taxi drivers," she told Tuoi Tre.

But there is one catch - higher prices all round.

"We have to keep our customers coming to stay in business, so we will have to raise the cost of operations to cover these services," Ms Hien said.

BBC News - January 10, 2020


Vietnam’s beer parlors offer transport services in face of new drunk driving law

As Vietnam has imposed much heftier fines on drunk driving from January 2020, beer parlors in the country have begun to offer transport services that help bring drinkers home safely in a bid to help their customers avoid a run-in with the law.

The new law on drunk driving, which took effect on January 1, stipulates that drivers must be completely sober while operating bicycles, motorbikes, automobiles, and any other vehicles on Vietnam’s roads.

Violators face fines many times higher than what were stated in the previous law, as well as tougher punishments including having their driving license revoked for up to 24 months.

Since the law’s enforcement, local residents have become increasingly hesitant to drink and drive.

Traffic police officers imposed fines worth a total of VND816.6 million (US$35,300) upon 615 road users for violating the drunk driving regulation throughout Vietnam on January 1 and 2, according to statistics from the Ministry of Public Security.

Many Vietnamese said they have decided to refrain from going out for a drink to avoid getting a hefty ticket.

The number of guests visiting a beer bar on Pham Van Dong Street in Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City have dropped considerably over the past days, its manager D.T.H. told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

More customers now prefer water and soda over alcoholic beverages, H. continued.

“I believe the situation is the same at other beer parlors in the country,” he added.

At a seafood restaurant in the central city of Da Nang, the amount of alcoholic beverages sold to diners has also fallen by 30 percent in the past days, said Nguyen Truong Tai, the owner.

In order to cope with this issue, many restaurants and beer parlors have introduced transport services allowing their guests to enjoy their drinks without having to worry about how to get home safely and legally.

At a beer shop in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City, a banner advertising its brand-new service has caught the attention of a lot of customers.

“We have a team of employees to take you home. All you have to do is enjoy the time with your friends and family at our restaurant. Your safety is our top priority,” the ad reads.

According to Phat, the manager, his employees will take customers home by car or motorbike.

“If all of our staff members are occupied during peak hours, we will help our customers book a cab or a motorbike taxi,” Phat elaborated.

At some other venues in Thu Duc District, customers are allowed to park their vehicles overnight if they choose to catch a taxi home after drinking.

Similar services have also become a new trend in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.

Dang Thai Hien, owner of a beer shop in the downtown district of Ninh Kieu, stated her employees will take all customers home without any extra charge.

“We are planning to coordinate with local cab and motorbike taxi drivers to provide free transport services for our guests,” Hien continued.

“We will have to raise our cost of operations to cover these services, but we have to keep our customers coming to stay in business."

Tuoi Tre News - January 7, 2020