According to a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, Uttar Pradesh leads in cases of drinking and driving incidents involving drug-impaired drivers. In 2021, careless driving due to alcohol or drugs contributed to 1.9% of all road accidents, resulting in 2,935 fatalities and 7,235 injuries. In a world where responsible choices are the pillars of a secure community, understanding the regulations and consequences of impaired driving becomes paramount.The consequences of impaired driving and drinking extend far beyond the courtroom. The penalties for violating the drinking and driving laws limit are discussed in the broader sense with the respective measures.
DRINKING AND DRIVING LAW IN INDIA
- Fine increased to Rs. 10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months.
- Previously, the fine was Rs. 2,000.
- Fine raised to Rs. 15,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
- Earlier, the fine for a second offence was Rs. 3,000.
- Penalties may also extend to the suspension or revocation of driving licences for individuals committing multiple offences.
These fines apply to all vehicle types, including commercial vehicles, four-wheelers, three-wheelers, and two-wheelers. The increased penalties underscore the gravity of the offence, aiming to discourage individuals from driving under the influence.
DRINKING AND DRIVING PROTOCOL IN INDIA
Routine drinking and driving checks are conducted nationwide by traffic police officials. Hotspots and random locations equipped with barricades facilitate these checks. If stopped:
Stop and Cooperate:
- Park your vehicle as directed by traffic police.
- Cooperate with officers and answer questions honestly.
- If suspected, a breathalyser test will be administered.
- Exceeding the permissible limit may lead to processing at the nearest police station.
- A penalty can be paid if the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) exceeds the limit.
- Punishments are case-specific and not generalised.
- Harm caused while driving under the influence may result in criminal charges with stringent penalties.
These measures prioritise public safety, aiming to deter individuals from drunk driving. It’s crucial to be aware of and comply with established protocols for responsible and safe driving practices.
WHAT ARE DRINKING AND DRIVING LAWS
Ongoing efforts to curb rising incidents involve stricter penalties in India. Key aspects include:
- Legal Drinking Age varies from 18 to 25 across states.
- Alcohol Limit for Driving set at 30 mg per 100 ml of blood.
- Punishments under Section 185 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, including fines and imprisonment.
- Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bills 2016 and 2019 for enhanced road safety and increased penalties.
- Licence Suspension, Checkpoints, and Education programs contributing to awareness.
Adhering to these laws is vital for individual safety and the collective well-being on the roads, as the legal system continually evolves to enhance road safety.
WHO ( WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION ) GUIDELINES
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with international partners, introduced the SAFER initiative. “SAFER” is an acronym representing the five most cost-effective interventions aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm.
Implementing and rigorously enforcing countermeasures against drink driving is crucial. Road users impaired by alcohol face a substantially elevated risk of being part of a traffic crash. To reverse this trend, it is essential to establish and enforce robust laws on drink driving, incorporating low blood alcohol concentration limits. This can be achieved through the strategic deployment of sobriety checkpoints and random breath testing.
Governments seeking effective strategies to combat drink-driving can take various concrete measures.
Implementing Measures to Combat Drink-Driving
Establishing BAC (BLOOD CONTENT ALCOHOL CONTENT) Limits:
- Set upper BAC limits for drivers, with reduced limits for novice and commercial drivers.
- Legislation should stipulate ≤ 0.05 g/dL for the general population and 0.02 g/dL for novice and commercial drivers.
Legislation and Penalties:
- Specify penalties for violating BAC limits, including administrative sanctions and criminal penalties.
- Allow roadside testing with calibrated equipment and make refusal a punishable offense.
- Penalties should include driving license suspension, mandatory minimum fines, and other punitive measures.
- Ensure consistent and highly visible enforcement of BAC limits.
- Conduct random breath-testing and sobriety checkpoints.
- Utilize effective public education campaigns to enhance awareness.
Public Awareness Campaigns:
- Conduct mass media and strategic communication campaigns emphasizing the risks of drink-driving.
- Promote awareness of enforcement activities.
Allocation of Resources:
- Allocate resources for police time in conducting breath-testing and sobriety checkpoints.
- Allocate resources in the judicial system for case processing.
- Secure funding for breath-testing equipment, with fines collected supporting police activities.
Treatment and Identification:
- Identify cases of high BAC levels and repeated drink-driving as potential signs of alcohol use disorders.
- Allocate resources for the identification and treatment of individuals with alcohol-related issues.
- Police: Responsible for enforcing drink-driving laws and implementing countermeasures. Adequate resources are essential.
- Department of Transportation: Responsible for implementing laws, policies, and communication strategies to improve road safety and health.
- Alcohol Servers: Stakeholders responsible for ensuring responsible alcohol service.
- Alternative Transportation Providers: Public and private alternatives should be available.
- Mass Media: Engage in campaigns that are not limited to specific holidays, increasing visibility throughout the year.
Collaboration among these stakeholders is crucial for a comprehensive approach to reducing drinking and driving accidents, ensuring effective enforcement, and promoting a shift in behaviour through public awareness and education.
Truck and bus drivers across India are currently in protest against the proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, a New Criminal Law code set to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which encompasses regulations related to hit-and-run incidents.Under the proposed law, the penalty for road accidents resulting in fatalities has been raised to a maximum of 10 years in prison. This marks a significant increase from the previous Indian Penal Code, where the maximum sentence for unintentional death caused by a car accident was limited to two years of imprisonment.
Proposed Changes in Drinking and Driving Laws : Overview of the New Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita,2023
The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita specifies, “Whoever causes the death of any person by engaging in a rash or negligent act, not amounting to culpable homicide, shall face imprisonment for a term extending up to seven years, along with a fine.” Furthermore, the new law introduces a punishment of ₹7 lakh and a maximum ten-year prison term for individuals who flee the scene or fail to promptly report the crime.Scheduled to come into effect in April 2024, triggering protests and demands from truck drivers for additional clarification regarding the modifications to the hit-and-run laws within the Indian Penal Code (Death by Negligence) as facilitated by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023.
READ MORE: Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita ,2023.
Calls from Demonstrators: Key Demands amid Protests
Various organizations representing truckers and transporters are urging the Central government to promptly address the concerns raised before the situation exacerbates amid the ongoing protests.The largest truckers’ organization in the country, AIMTC, recently communicated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, emphasizing the issue of law enforcement often attributing accidents to large vehicles without thorough investigations. Additionally, they highlighted the risk that drivers face in encountering violent mobs at accident scenes.
The legal limits and penalties outlined by drinking and driving laws are not just rules; they are the safeguards that protect lives and prevent tragedies.It’s crucial to embrace the notion that responsible drinking and driving is not only a personal choice but a collective responsibility. By sharing knowledge, advocating for change, and fostering a culture of accountability, we can actively contribute to the creation of safer streets for everyone by following drinking and driving laws.
SOURCE: THE INDIAN EXPRESS