Ministry eyes new 4am venue rules

Ministry eyes new 4am venue rules

The Ministry of Public Health will propose that nightspots wanting to open longer hours conduct an alcohol breathalyser test on their customers before they leave, if they appear too drunk to get home safely.

It also proposes they find them transport services if need be.

The ministry has set up a working group to support the government's policy to spur the economy by extending the opening hours of nightclubs and bars, while also protecting public health, said Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew on Sunday.

It was trying to strike a balance and hit upon the idea of having nightspots step in before customers go home.

Some Western countries have adopted similar interventions to ensure patron safety and that of the public at large.

When longer opening hours start on Dec 15 in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Phuket as planned, outlets can sell alcohol until 4am in special designated zones.

In response to public concerns over rising road accidents caused by drunk driving, he said the ministry will come up with measures to address the issue.

The working group will submit its proposal to the government soon.

If approved, the ministry will then exercise its authority under the 2008 Alcoholic Beverages Control Act to issue ministerial regulations, including a requirement for nightspots to conduct an alcohol breathalyser test on customers who appear drunk, he said.

If the test shows the level of blood alcohol content exceeds a legal limit of 0.05%, the pubs must not allow customers to drive, he said.

The law also prohibits the sale of alcohol to people who are heavily intoxicated.

Selling alcohol to extremely drunk people carries a penalty, as the ministry is authorised under the law to protect the health and safety of both drinkers and those who don't drink, he said.

That is why the ministry is also considering encouraging all nightspots in the zones to find proper transport services for customers so they won't end up driving while under the influence, he said. No details were available as to penalties which non-compliant nightspots might face.

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