Traffic around Dongsishitiao is about to get even worse than normal! The police have been checking all cars (not taxis or buses) at that busy intersection with the second ring road, often closing the left lanes in order to facilitate their search. We applaud the police for this initiative, the Dongsishitiao bridge is a notoriously dangerous intersection because of the round about, but also because it is near Sanlitun Bar Street, so late night traffic in the area is often brutal and there must have been a barrage of problems with drink driving in the area for the police to be so dedicated every weekend to checking all private cars.
Most tourists, expats and diplomats don’t drive in the city. The process for getting a driver’s license isn’t easy, and driving in the third world can be a mess in terms of the complete disregard for road rules. You’ll often find six lanes on a four lane road in rural Chinese towns. In Beijing, its much more organized, there are only five rows of cars honking unendingly on a four lane road.
There is also a problem with drunks stumbling into the street around Sanlitun and being hit by cars going full speed down the road. This isn’t particularly common, but it explains why police have been ‘arresting’ foreigners who are drunk in public on gongti street. In the last case I heard of personally, police held the drunk man for a few hours and then released him with no charges pressed. The traffic police in Beijing seem genuinely interested in preventing accidents and helping people stay safe.
If you find yourself in an intoxicated state in Beijing there is no excuse not to take a taxi home. The buses and metro close around 11:00pm in almost all cases, but the taxi services in the city never sleep. Since a cab costs less than $5 in almost every case there is no excuse not to leave your car wherever it is until morning and grab a cab to your hotel or home. Public transportation in Beijing is amazing, and there really isn’t even any point in owning or using a car.
If you find you have a drink cab driver (and this does happen more than you’d think!) go ahead and ask to get out at the next safe place for him to stop. Don’t yell and startle him (or her) but calmly ask to get out and leave the man his money. It may cost you a few extra dollars but that is far cheaper than the medical bills if you get in an accident owing to a drunken taxi driver.