We tell you what happens if you are caught speeding, not wearing a helmet or seatbelt or using a phone while driving, plus, the cost of parking fines in Vietnam.

You break the law and you are arrested

If you are caught red-handed — for instance if you have forgotten a turn signal or crossed into the wrong lane — in the sight of a policeman, they will walk into the street, point at you with their brightly colored torch, and motion for you to pull over. Beautiful girls and owners of brand new motorcycles have the reputation of being arrested more often.

Good to know: Traffic policemen are obliged by law to salute you when they stop you.

Do not try to escape

Some expats will advise you to pretend not seeing the policemen and ignore them or run away. We think you shouldn’t. Trying to avoid them could possibly lead to an accident with another motorist or worse, the police getting on their bikes to chase you down. This will almost definitely lead to your bike being impounded on top of a hefty fine.

Pay a fine or pay a bribe?

Once you have been pulled over, the amount you pay will depend on how much Vietnamese you speak and what paperwork you have. If you pretend to not know Vietnamese, English, or even French, you might be able to get away without paying anything in some cases.

Another trick that seems to work is to talk gibberish and gesticulate: If they feel they are losing their time with you, they might let you go. This will only be an effective way to dodge a fine if the infraction you committed is minor.

If you are not a good actor/actress, then you will have to pay.

If your paperwork is in order (valid license, vehicle registration, insurance, passport), the only right and legal way to follow is to take the ticket and pay it within a couple weeks at the tax office. However, if you choose this solution, the police officer has the right to confiscate your vehicle’s registration. He may also take your license for extreme cases.

According to Circular No. 48/2014/TT-BGTVT, any foreigner or Vietnamese citizen residing overseas that wishes to drive in Vietnam shall:

a) Follow procedures for replacing an equivalent driving license of Vietnam if that person already has a national driving license;
b) Be permitted to operate the types of vehicles written on the international driving license without having to replace it with a Vietnam’s driving license if that person already has an international driving license issued by a competent authority of a member state of Convention on Road Traffic 1968;
c) In case an international agreement on driving license to which Vietnam is a signatory prescribes otherwise, such international agreement shall apply.
Even though it is the correct way to do things, it is usually a hassle for both the policemen and for you. To exacerbate the situation, the place to pay your fine might not be where they are keeping your registration license.

Because of these complications, most people choose to pay the fine directly to the cop and to get on with their day. These ‘fines’ can range from VND100,000 – 200,000 for motorbikes and VND500,000 – 1 million cars. Beware that they can be higher than the actual cost of the ticket. The amount will vary depending on your language proficiency, the type of vehicle, and the condition that it is in. Please note that only police wearing brown uniforms are allowed to issue fines and handle traffic violation. Without it, they cannot legally pull you over.

The Consequences: How much will you be fined?

Concerning fines, below is a breakdown of what you can expect to pay if you’re fined according to Decree No. 171/2013/NĐ-CP

Behavior or violation Fines


Temporary keeping your motor (day) Taking away driving license (day)
Excessive speed from 5 – under 10 km/h 100,000 – 200,000 0 0
Excessive speed from 10 – 20 km/h 500,000 – 1,000,000 0 0
Excessive speed over 20 km/h 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 0 30
Passing at the prohibited area 500,000 – 1,000,000 0 0
Driving in prohibited area, opposite side 200,000 – 400,000 0 30
Driving in wrong path of road or lane 200,000 – 400,000 0 0
Non-compliance with the signal of traffic lights 200,000 – 400,000 0 30
Non-compliance with the command of traffic controller 200,000 – 400,000 0 30
Changing direction without reducing speed 200,000 – 400,000 0 0
Changing direction without the signal informing turning


200,000 – 400,000 0 0
Level of alcohol in the blood over 0.25mg – 0.4mg/l 500,000 – 1,000,000 7 30
Level of alcohol in the blood over 0.4mg/l 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 7 60
Non-compliance with checking for the levels of alcohol in the blood 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 7 60
Not carrying Registered Certificate of motor, Driving License 80,000 – 120,000 0 0
No carrying insurance Certificate of Motor 80,000 – 120,000 0 0
Not owning a driving license 800,000 – 1,200,000 7 0
Not owning a Registered Certificate of motor 300,000 – 400,000 7 0
Driving a motor with capacity over 175 cm3 without driving license 4,000,000 – 6,000,000 7 0
No wearing helmet 100,000 – 200,000 0 0
Using phone when driving 60,000 – 80,000 0 0
Pulling or pushing other vehicles 200,000 – 400,000 0 0
Taking off 2 hands while driving 5,000,000 – 7,000,000 7 60
Weaving when driving 5,000,000 – 7,000,000 7 60
Driving on one wheel (to 2-wheel vehicle) 5,000,000 – 7,000,000 7 60
Driving self-assembly or self-produced vehicles 800,000 – 1,000,000 confiscating vehicle 60

Overall, after several years living in Vietnam, policemen have only stopped me a few times. Unlike some other Asian countries, it does not seem that the local police are targeting foreigners in particular. If you have all your documents in order and follow the traffic rules, you don’t have to worry about being arrested or harassed.

Post by: City Pass Guide