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I kissed my drunk boyfriend and was fined for drunk driving. What should I do?

Sunday, December 24, 2023, 14:05 GMT+7
I kissed my drunk boyfriend and was fined for drunk driving. What should I do?
Painting for illustration purposes by Ngoc Thanh / Tuoi Tre

A reader wrote to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper asking for legal advice after she was fined for 'driving under the influence of alcohol' after kissing her drunk boyfriend.

“My boyfriend went out drinking and got drunk, so he asked me to drive him home. He kissed me before we left the restaurant. I was then pulled over by a group of policemen doing blood alcohol concentration (BAC) checks just 50 meters away from the restaurant. My BAC showed up positive for alcohol. I'm so upset,” she wrote.

In response, lawyer Nguyen Huu The Trach from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association explained that the process for an alcohol checkpoint includes traffic police checking BAC through a qualitative measurement to confirm whether or not there is a likelihood that alcohol has been consumed and a quantitative measurement to accurately determine an individual’s BAC.

If the qualitative test shows that alcohol is likely present in the blood, a driver who has recently consumed fermented foods has the right to ask traffic police to let them rest for 5-10 minutes and drink water before taking the test again.

If the driver has already taken a quantitative measurement without resting, he or she can ask to retake the test. He or she can also asks to take a test on another device to ensure accuracy.

When handling alcohol-related violations, traffic police officers also rely on an individual’s psychological and behavioral manifestations such as speech, gestures, facial expressions, and breathing rhythm.

When BAC levels through breath tests are not clear, the driver can ask traffic police to take him or her to a medical facility for a blood test to get accurate results. 

Medicines, non-alcoholic drinks, and food do not increase BAC levels to the point that they would show up in a blood test.  

For this reader’s specific case, Trach suggested that in the future, she ask traffic police for a rest for five minutes before having her BAC level measured. 

Currently, blood testing to determine alcohol concentration is not clearly regulated as to whether traffic police or citizens must pay a testing fee. However, tests are done at the request of police so they should be responsible for paying for the fee. 

The Ho Chi Minh City police department’s current initiative to step up BAC testing is laudable for its commitment to enhancing public safety and reducing the risks of impaired driving.

Accordingly, traffic police in Ho Chi Minh City have been divided into 10 teams, of which five measure alcohol concentration in the central area and the others in the suburbs.

Breath testing, where drivers are asked to blow into a device known as a breathalyzer, is conducted both day and night.

Vietnam categorizes BAC violations into three levels, ranging from the lowest to the highest alcohol concentration.

These include levels below or equal to 50mg in 100ml of blood or 0.25mg in one liter of breath, between 50 and 80mg in 100ml of blood or between 0.25 and 0.4mg in a liter of breath, and exceeding 80mg in 100ml of blood or 0.4mg in a liter of breath.

Generally, Vietnam's law mandates that drivers must be completely sober, abstaining from any alcoholic drinks, when operating bicycles, motorbikes, automobiles, or any other vehicles on the road.

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