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Harsher laws need of the hour

Year 2008Offence: Drink DrivingChallans: 7,579Year 2009Challans: 12,109

delhi Updated: Feb 02, 2010 23:40 IST
Atul Mathur

Year 2008

Offence: Drink Driving

Challans: 7,579

Year 2009

Challans: 12,109

The numbers read impressive. A whopping increase of 63 per cent in the number of challans and no major accident prove there has been a remarkable improvement in the way traffic police have cracked down on drink driving in the past year.

But when it comes to getting harsher punishments to culprits for taking the wheel under the influence of alcohol, the Delhi traffic police's achievements sound hollow.

Unlike Mumbai, which showed the country the way to deal with such cases by putting culprits behind the bars, Delhi's record has been abysmally poor. Despite so many prosecutions, there is not a single instance where the court handed imprisonment to anyone driving under the influence of alcohol.

“Delhi has to set an example. A fine of a few thousand rupees would not help. Severe punishment to those who drink and drive can only act as a major deterrent,” said Dr Hariharan of Indian Alcohol Policy Alliance.

Experts believe there has been major improvement in the waytraffic police have started dealing with serious offence like drink driving. During weekends and major festivals, special traffic police teams identify strategic locations, mostly near prominent hotels and pubs.

Anyone who smells of alcohol has to take the breath analyser test. Those found with more alcohol in blood than the permissible limit are challaned, the driving licence is impounded and sometimes even the vehicle is seized.

But that is not enough. “Arresting drunk drivers, cancelling licenses or impounding vehicles is not the solution," said Prince Singhal, founder, Campaign Against Drunken Driving (CADD) Movement.

Senior traffic cops said in the given framework, police could only recommend punishment advised in the law and the Indian penal code. However, to deal with serious accidents the police have suggested changes in the central motor vehicle act.

“We have proposed the central government to create a new section in the IPC to deal with the cases of causing death while driving under the influence of alcohol and give harsher punishment to send a message that such offences can jot be tolerated," said a senior traffic cop.