Though the number of people booked under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act for drink driving remains unchanged, the number of convictions for the offence has reduced drastically.
While in 2009, there were 14,681 cases registered with the traffic police and the number of people convicted was 11,499, in 2010 till December 27, drink driving cases registered was 14,641 and the convictions were 8,865.
This, the traffic police say is due to several reasons. Some traffic officers said it could be because drink driving is not considered a serious offence. “Neither motorists nor the system take it seriously. Many walk free even though we have enough evidence against them as their advocates prove otherwise,” said a senior traffic officer.
When asked why there was a drop in convictions, DCP (traffic) Nandkumar Chougule said there were 4,843 cases pending. He said cases were earlier heard in the morning court and hence the procedure was fast. “As cases are tried in regular courts, the hearing is always postponed.”
Ashok Datar, a traffic expert and founder trustee of the Mumbai Environment Society Network, said, “The traffic police is doing a commendable job as far as the drive is considered, but falter when it comes to gathering evidence against offenders.
An advocate representing a person booked in a drink driving case, said when the law was introduced, offenders were tried and given simple imprisonment. But, it was later found that some approached the courts and a judgment was passed that first-time offenders would be let off with a fine. “If the first-time offender causes damage to a person or property, then it is a serious offence,” the advocate said.