Blood test rule urged for drink driving

Blood test rule urged for drink driving

The Public Health Ministry will push for a rule to allow blood tests for alcohol on motorists who cannot take a breathalyser test as part of an effort to curb drink-driving.

Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said motorists who break traffic laws would, under a new rule, need to undergo blood tests for alcohol if they don't take a breath test.

"If they refuse a breathalyser test they are deemed drunk. Those who cannot take a breathalyser test, [will under the new rule] have to undergo a blood test at the discretion of the attending officer," he said.

The test results will be kept on file for consideration when they apply to renew their driving licences, he said.

Mr Sathit said a certain amount of budget was spent on blood tests -- done without the need of a rule -- on motorists during the road safety "seven dangerous days" campaign over the New Year holiday.

Opas Karnkawinpong, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) chief, said that the DDC is responsible for enforcing the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, adding that a blood test for alcohol costs about 1,000 baht for each motorist.

About 1-2 million baht was spent carrying out blood tests on motorists during a road safety campaign over the New Year holiday, Dr Opas said.

During the New Year holiday period, the Department of Medical Sciences analysed a total of 784 blood samples, 55% of which had alcohol levels exceeding the legal limit.

If the new rule is to be applied, between 20-30 million baht will be needed annually to conduct blood tests on motorists who cannot take breathalyser tests, Dr Opas said.

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