A Proposed ‘Points System’ for Driving in Thailand – Some ‘Points’ of Comparison

A senior police official has been reported as proposing a new driving license points system intended to be up and running in December. The comments were made at the 14th seminar on road safety in Bang Na last week.

“Tweaks are taking place and the public will be informed about the system in a PR campaign from next month”, says Major General Ekkarak Limsangkat.  He hopes that once the system comes in in Thailand that the number of accidents on the roads will diminish just like it had in Japan and western countries where getting points on licenses for infractions on the roads had been in place in the US, Japan and Europe for 20 years.   

The proposed system as it may apply to some serious offences is a follows: 

  • Drunk driving: 3 points
  • Driving Through red lights: 2 points
  • No helmets and speeding: 1 point

Major General Ekkarak is quoted to say that if you use up all your 12 points then your license will be suspended for 90 days. Repeat offenders face a three year ban and having to retake their driving test.

As many commentators have quickly remarked, the 3 point penalty for Drunk Driving would mean that four such offences will be needed before a driving suspension applies or running a red light six times.

A very brief and incomplete review of the penalties that apply to driving with a blood alcohol over the legal limit in just a few other counties is shown in the table below.  This is provided to give some comparisons to the described Thailand points system. 

A Proposed ‘Points System’ for Driving in Thailand – Some ‘Points’ of Comparison

The penalties described above should only be regarded as indicative with many other considerations such as the driver’s experience, alcohol levels and circumstances of the offence.  Fines which almost always apply have not been included.

Apart from fines, other measures often apply including forfeiture of the vehicle, penalties for others allowing the offence to be committed, home detention with electronic monitoring, devices fitted to vehicles and compulsory treatment and drug testing. 

In most cases Driving under Suspension is considered more serious than an initial offence of not holding a valid license.

Clearly the proposed points system for Thailand is ‘out of sync’ with alcohol related driving penalties in these countries.  The comments made about the number of accidents on the roads diminishing just like in Japan and western countries is then in question.

The issue of consistent enforcement is also very relevant.  An unfortunate effect of this current reality is the tendency for foreign drivers in Thailand to join the locals in ignoring the rules of the road in Thailand and away from their home country environment. 

Driving after drinking, failing to wear seat belts or helmets is common practice by many foreign drivers when they are away from the restrictions that apply at home.  Many fail to see their hypocrisy when deriding local drivers and ‘calling the kettle black’.