The National Alcohol Beverage Policy Committee has ordered pubs and restaurants opening until 4am from Dec 15 to open sobering-up areas and prevent drunk customers from driving.
Santi Promphat, deputy minister of public health, on Saturday said the committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, met on Friday to extend the opening hours for entertainment venues in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Bangkok and Surat Thani (only on Koh Samui), under a government policy to spur the economy.
The policy change also applies to hotels nationwide.
Nighttime entertainment venues must strictly comply with rules and regulations, particularly the Entertainment Place Act and Section 29 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, which prevent establishments from selling alcoholic beverages to people under 20 years old.
Mr Santi said operators of these venues must provide breathalyser tests to customers who will drink and drive. These businesses must also provide areas for drivers with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of 50 milligrammes per decilitre to sober up.
Customers must wait in the area until they can drive, he said.
If customers refuse to wait, pub operators must contact the friends and relatives of customers so they can be driven home or provide transport for the customers, he said. Customers mut pay for this service.
Various agencies will compile the information and carry out an impact assessment on the extension of operating hours, he said.
Motorists should not drive while intoxicated during the New Year's festival. Businesses must comply with the law and prohibit the sale of alcoholic drinks to people under 20 years old, he said, adding alcohol sales are allowed from 11am–2pm and again from 5pm–midnight.
Mr Santi also urged family members to keep an eye on their children to prevent them from driving while drunk. Checkpoints will be beefed up to check motorists.
He said that during the "seven dangerous days" last year, road accidents occurred 2,440 times, with 317 dead and 2,437 injured. Drunk driving was the second biggest cause of road accidents, accounting for 25.49%, he said.
Santi: Checkpoints will be beefed up