Songkran, the traditional Thai new year festival, is just around the corner now and preparations for the world’s “largest water battle” are well under way in Pattaya. As usual, the week-long annual madness and nonstop street party promises to become just as wild as it is wet. And well, unless you’re a strict non-drinker it certainly won’t be easy to stay sober from April 13-19.
But it’s exactly here where the problems may start.
With millions of (more or less intoxicated) Thais on the road over Songkran, this is naturally also the time of the year when road accidents and fatalities shoot up dramatically. Only last year, for example, a whopping 364 people were killed in 3,373 road accidents nationwide over the so-called “seven dangerous days” of Songkran.
So no, it’s not really a major surprise that the Thai junta/government resolved this Monday to revive the harsh anti-drink driving campaign of the past New Year holiday period over the upcoming Songkran holidays.
The renewed crackdown on drunk driving will again include nationwide checkpoints and won’t just allow the police and military officials to temporarily seize vehicles and driving licences of offenders; no, drunk drivers may also be arrested and detained for up to 15 days.
While we still hope to give you more details as to how exactly this latest crackdown will be enforced in Pattaya a.s.a.p. the Bangkok Post reports today:
The order, issued under Section 44 of the interim constitution in December last year, was initially intended for use during the 2015-2016 New Year Festival.
It empowers authorities to seize the licences of drunk drivers for up to 30 days and impound their vehicles for a minimum of seven days. Drunk drivers may also be arrested and detained, then sent to attend a behavioural adjustment programme for a maximum of 15 days.
So well, if you plan on drinking over Songkran (and we know it will be hard to stay sober that week) you’ve at least been warned now to better leave your car or motorbike at home. Stay safe, Songkran party animals!
UPDATE (April 10) – The Nation reports that a total of 90,000 police officers have been deployed nationwide enforce traffic laws over the official Songkran festival period (April 11-17). A police spokesman has also reiterated the warning that “drunk drivers [including foreigners] would be arrested and their vehicles impounded, while driving licences of reckless drivers would be seized.”
As for Pattaya, all we can tell you is that the number of temporary road checkpoints.(sometimes it’s just two or three coppers, sometimes more than a dozen, and the checkpoints come and go often within a matter of an hour before relocating to a new spot) appears to have increased recently. So well, you’ve been warned.