Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is reaching epidemic levels in Thailand. While there are laws to reduce this problem a lack of enforcement means offenders go free or face only reduced sentences.
During the 2022 Songkran festival – the Thai new year – 7,141 people were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Songkran is usually on April 13, with the holiday extending to April 15.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 26% of road deaths in Thailand are due to alcohol.
The 7141 people charged were put on probation by the courts. Among them, 13 were ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device and forbidden to leave their house between 7:00 PM and 5:00 AM for a week.
The Public Health Ministry will send those who are at risk of alcohol dependence to a facility for rehabilitation. A repeat offender would be sent to rehab and behavioral adjustment for three days and be required to report to probation officials regularly and to perform community service.
However, in Thailand many DUI cases result in suspended sentences. This means unless the perpetrators get caught doing the same thing again there are no consequences.
According to Prommin Kantiya, director of the Accident Prevention Network Thailand, weak law enforcement is the reason for the many crashes due to alcohol.
Everybody knows that driving under the influence of alcohol is neither safe nor legal, but with the very loose law enforcement, they are not afraid of getting caught and they are not afraid of the laws,” said Prommin Kantiya, director of the Accident Prevention Network Thailand, as per CTN News.Prommin Kantiya, director, Accident Prevention Network Thailand
As per Thai DUI laws, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 or more.
Despite the severity of the offense Thai enforcement officers often accept guilty pleas for “injury caused by negligence or recklessness” instead of impaired driving due to alcohol. This significantly reduces the penalties for offenders of DUI laws.
Under the Thai alcohol laws, a person can be fined up to 200,000 baht and/or be incarcerated for up to 10 years for driving under the influence of alcohol. Their licenses can be suspended or revoked. However, leniency is often granted by the police and courts which diminish the effectiveness of Thai DUI laws.