It is a disease that claims more lives in the country than cancer. For some, it implies a complete disregard for the thousands of victims on an annual basis, for others it is drunken driving, which has gradually worked its way up the danger mark year after year.
This despite the fact that prosecution has been at its highest in the last decade. This includes intensified checking near more than 400 favoured watering holes in the city and suspension of licences of errant drivers.
“Drunken driving should be treated as a violent crime as this endangers lives of innocent people. We should have zero tolerance to this menace and punish offenders irrespective of their identities and social statures,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
Over 2,000 people have been sent to jail for drunken driving in the national capital in the past one year, but many more have managed to escape the dreaded jail term and will continue to do so until imprisonment becomes mandatory for drunk drivers.
“Fines and imprisonment should be doubled for drunken driving offences. Existing fines and punishments are too lenient,” said Prince Singhal, an activist fighting against drunken driving. As a partial ray of hope, the Delhi Police, as a part of Motor Vehicle Act (1988) Amendment Committee, has recommended that imprisonment for drunk drivers should be based on Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels and that even penalties should increase in proportion to the BAC level of an errant driver.
As per rules 30mg alcohol content in 100ml blood is permissible to drive but beyond this is a punishable offence. According to Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, those caught driving after drinking beyond permissible limit have to either pay a fine of R2,000 or face imprisonment upto six months, or both.
A second-time offender, caught drunk behind the wheel within next three years, would either face two years in prison or a fine of Rs 3,000 or both. However, court has sent the offenders to jail for minimum one-day and maximum 20 days. A 10-member committee headed by former road secretary S Sundar has also recommended conversion of it as a non-bailable offence and increase fine and punishment for the offence.