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No driver? Stay out!

This week, not only the police, but the city’s pubs and bars, too, have plans to get tough on drinkers, reports Rocky Thongam.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2008 21:53 IST
Rocky Thongam

As the glasses are emptied on New Year’s Eve, the number of drunken driving accidents rises on the streets. This week, not only the police, but the city’s pubs and bars, too, have plans to get tough on drinkers.

These plans include an earlier call for last drinks, admission only to groups with a designated driver and a strict watch on whether a guest is downing one too many. “Usually, the DJ announces the calls for the last drinks half an hour before closing time, but this time we’ll get stricter and give partygoers more time to sober up before going home,” says Surender Singh, manager of RPM bar and lounge. Mystic Heights will crack down even harder. “We won’t allow anybody in without a designated driver,” manager Ajay Jha says.

At Turquoise Cottage, staff have strict instructions to keep an eye on the tables. “The moment we realise any partygoer is getting out of control, we’ll stop serving them,” says manager Tarun Kumar Singh. Pro-active moves: Another major step is the weeklong campaign till December 31 by CADD (Campaign Against Drunken Driving), an NGO that plans to ensure bars and pubs in the Capital keep tipsy merrymakers from getting behind the wheel. “We have involved more than 100 bars and pubs across the country to sensitise people against drunken driving,” says Prince Singhal, founder-president of CADD. At least 24 pubs and bars in Delhi are going to screen Alcohol — Wrong Fuel for Driving, a film, besides taking out a safe party guide, car stickers and specially designed coasters to drive home the point.

If that doesn’t deter offenders, then the Delhi Police shall be waiting with open arms. With magistrates accompanying patrolling squads, it will be justice on the spot.

Of course, sceptics have doubts. “I doubt if pubs will come down too hard on their patrons on a day that gets them the most revenue. And who monitors whether the designated driver is abstaining or drinking?” questions chartered accountant Sarita Lal. “And how many magistrates will be around to deal with the drunks?” Nevertheless, the message is hitting targets. “Lots of people who plan to party have told me that they’ll have a driver. Others will get taxis,” says Singhal. As actor Sudhanshu Pandey says, “Know when to draw the line. Let it not be a ride to hell.”

Lethal Stats
90,000 Annual deaths in India due to drunken driving
35 Percentage rise in such accidents during New Year celebrations
Source: CADD