Business negotiations in China have traditionally been conducted over meals accompanied by plenty of alcohol, and the fiery sorghum-based spirit baijiu remains a staple at state banquets and family reunions. With the number of cars on Chinese roads tripling in the last five years, the government has launched a crackdown on drunk driving, imposing stiff prison sentences. Those convicted can get six months of jail time and fines plus lose their license for five years. Local dial-a-chauffeur services reap the benefits.
Beijing Ben Ao An Da Automobile Driving Service, which hires out chauffeurs, said it expects to boost sales by about 60 percent this year as a result of the tougher law, which went into effect on May 1. “Drinking with clients is part of my work,” says Jack Wang, a salesman for a Beijing telecom company, who uses substitute drivers about once a week. “A lot of business has to be done over dinner and alcohol, but no one I know is willing to take the chance now to drive after drinks.”