Prevalence of drink-driving in Thimphu, Bhutan: Targeted surveillance at sentinel sites

Tashi Tenzin, Roma Karki, Tashi Duba, Kinga Jamphel, Sonam Dhendup, Dil Kumar Subba, Gampo Dorji, Peter G. Miller, Jennie Connor, Daniel Barker, Kerry S. O'Brien, Kypros Kypri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Introduction and Aims: Bhutan has a high incidence of alcohol-related disease. With economic development, motorised transport is proliferating, increasing the potential for traffic injury. We investigated drink-driving in the country's largest urban environment. Methods: Working with police, we set up checkpoints at major thoroughfares in Thimphu, on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights, from May to July 2017. Police directed cars to testing bays where drivers were breathalysed and interviewed. Results: All 1596 drivers stopped by police were breathalysed, and 212 (13%) tested positive. Blood alcohol of >0.02 g/dL (which we defined as ‘probable impairment’) was detected in 178 drivers (11%), while 67 (4.2%) exceeded the legal limit of 0.08 g/dL. Probable impairment was more common in men, older drivers, on Tuesdays (versus Fridays or Saturdays) and later at night. Conclusion: Drink-driving is very common at night-time in Bhutan. Routine roadside random breath-testing, and media campaigns emphasising the risk of apprehension and consequent serious financial and social penalties, should be considered to deter drink-driving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-458
Number of pages5
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • alcohol
  • drink-driving
  • driving
  • random breath testing
  • traffic injury

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