Over 2800 drunken driving cases registered since January
Drinking may be fun, but reckless behaviour in inebriated condition can have consequences. Drunk driving is one of the most serious offences as one not only risks one’s own life but also that of others in the car and those who are out on the road and in other vehicles. In a city that witnesses a minimum of 150 drunken driving related accidents a month, recorded by Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH) alone, its traffic police have to make do within their limitations such as limited number of breathalysers to rein in offenders. For those who love to take a swig and drive around, the police crackdown on drunk driving hardly seems a deterrent. But at the same time, police crackdown at regular intervals with checkpoints that are set up at several locations of the city.
Earlier this year the district transport office had decided to suspend the licences of people found driving in an inebriated state. The practice, which follows Supreme Court guidelines, was implemented during the 27th Road Safety Week.
Areas such as Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati Club Rotary, Ganeshguri, Christian Basti, Khanapara, Bharalumukh, Maligaon, Cycle Factory, Zoo Road, Jalukbari are some of the spots that are regularly monitored by police officials. “We carry out drives on a regular basis at a few junctions that witness most drunk-driving cases. There are around seven spots where we carry out such drives. Moreover, we also carry out special drives where several junctions are monitored at the same time,” mentioned a senior police official.
“On regular drives the numbers of cases reach up to 30 from a single junction whereas during special drives the figure reaches up to 100. There are several spots in the city where people consume alcohol out in the open and take to driving. Thus the junctions intersect with the spot scrutinized by us. It is mostly among the youth that such incidents are found,” the official informed.
Breathalysers are a major addition to the police force which helps in monitoring incidents of drunken driving. Each police station has a breathalyser along with four in-built breathalysers in four interceptors. Even the presence of such a tool has not helped in bringing down the number of drunken driving. On several occasions it is found that the police merely sniff the breath off the people’s mouth in order to detect if the vehicle driver is under the influence of alcohol.
“Sniffing is not a major problem but during major drivers we have to check several people and using the breathalyser on each of them is time consuming. We carry out two phases of the breathalyser test. In the first phase the police smell the breath of the vehicle driver and if presence of alcohol is suspected then the person is asked to blow into the breathalyser,” the police official informed.
Under Section 185 (a) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, any person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving or attempting to drive a vehicle with an alcohol level exceeding 30 mg per 100 ml of blood (30 mgbl) detected by the breathalyser, shall be punished for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to six months or a fine up to Rs. 2,000, or both. On 1st March 2012, the union cabinet approved proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. Higher penalties were introduced, including fines from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10,000 and imprisonment from 6 months to 4 years. Meanwhile, sources in the police said that unless a person commits a crime after consuming alcohol it is not an offence and therefore they are not fined while driving but they are sent to court and a case is registered against them.
The drinking age in the states of Chandigarh, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab and Meghalaya is 25 whereas it is mere 18 in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Puducherry, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Goa
Sale of alcohol is banned in Nagaland apart from the city of Dimapur and in the states of Manipur, Lakshadweep and Gujrat. Bihar was recently added to the list
In 2014 a seventeen year prohibition was lifted from Mizoram
GMCH alone witnesses a minimum of 150 drunken driving related accidents a month
Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati Club Rotary, Ganeshguri, Christian Basti, Khanapara, Bharalumukh, Maligaon, Cycle Factory, Zoo Road, Jalukbari are some of the spots that are regularly monitored by the police
Each police station has a breathalyser along with four in-built breathalysers in four interceptors
Under Section 185 (a) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, any person under the influence of alcohol level exceeding 30 mg per 100 ml of blood (30 mgbl) shall be punished for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to six months or a fine up to Rs. 2,000, or both.