Integrity Legal

8th December 2009

In most jurisdictions of the United States of America driving under the influence is considered to be a very serious offense. Commonly known as DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) this offense often carries with it stiff fines and penalties. In Thailand, drunk driving is illegal as well, but in some provinces enforcement of the relevant law can be spotty at best. Thaivisa.com in conjunction with The Nation Newspaper are currently reporting that Thai police are increasing their efforts in enforcing drunk driving statutes. This will likely have a major impact upon drivers in the coming weeks as there are many holidays (both western and Thai) during the month of December. As one of the penalties for drunken driving is license suspension or revocation, a brief overview of the process to obtain a Thai driving license is also appropriate.

To quote Thaivisa.com:

“The government is imposing a strict law against drunk driving, under which violators will be arrested immediately and be subject to prosecution within 48 hours, a Bangkok seminar on road safety was told yesterday.A mandatory fine of between Bt5,000 and Bt20,000 will also be imposed on convicted violators, along with the drivers’ licence being suspended for six months or forever for repeat offenders, judge Prasong Mahaleetrakool said…The law will be strictly enforced during the holiday period.”

This author is happy to see the Thai law enforcement authorities taking an active role in discouraging drunken driving. Foreigners in the Kingdom of Thailand should take note of the possibility of license revocation. Obtaining a Thai driving license can be difficult for foreign national’s as a showing of residence in Thailand is required. Residence in Thailand can be difficult to prove for foreigners as many find it difficult to be registered on a Tabien Baan (House Registration Booklet). Foreign Tabien Baans are not easily issued which is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that many of the officers working at a Thai Amphoe Office (Civil Registrar’s Office) are unaccustomed to issuing them. That being said, registration on a Tabien Baan is not the only method of proving residence and once the foreign national demonstrates his or her residence is in Thailand, then it may be possible to obtain a Thai drivers license. In Thailand, separate licenses are issued for cars and motorcycles. This system is similar to most jurisdictions the USA except that Thai officers at the Transportation office actually issue these two licenses on two different cards rather that putting all of the information on one document.

Since driving while intoxicated could lead to the loss of a foreign national’s Thai driving license, it is both wise and prudent for a foreigner to refrain from drinking and driving in the Kingdom of Thailand. Foreign nationals should also note that a drunk driving offense could also lead to the loss of one’s Thai visa as Royal Thai Immigration authorities would probably take a dim view of one who violates the laws of the Kingdom while in the country on a Thailand visa. Those with a Thai fiancee who is the proposed beneficiary of a K1 visa would also be wise in explaining that a drunken driving charge may have an adverse impact upon her ability to obtain this fiancee visa as the US Embassy takes a dim view of criminal convictions when adjudicating visa applications.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.