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Last orders: Drink, but don’t drive

Apart from making the roads safer, the Mumbai Police divided the city’s revellers into two groups when the ‘anti-drinking and driving’ campaign was first launched six years ago.

lifestyle Updated: Nov 30, 2013 11:52 IST
Serena Menon

Apart from making the roads safer, the Mumbai Police divided the city’s revellers into two groups when the ‘anti-drinking and driving’ campaign was first launched six years ago. One group — the reformed lot — realised their recklessness and mended their ways. The second — the irresponsible lot — had too much money and too little value for life. They still hit the pedal under influence.

Over the years, this campaign has proved that a law can truly bring about a shift in the mindset of the youth. For possibly the first time, it changed the perceptions of fickle-minded drinkers. Bragging rights for driving drunk in a bid to prove alcohol-consumption capacities lost its cred. What was once ‘cool’ became a cardinal mistake. In Mumbai, today, drunken drivers can face serious judgement.

Some non-Mumbaikars still don’t get why we shudder at the thought of driving inebriated. “Is Mumbai really that strict?” they ask. “Yes, it is,” we say. People are also unaware that the cops here are equally strict about people drinking inside cars, even in the presence of a sober driver.

Unfortunately, most cities in India haven’t figured out how to replicate this success. In smaller places like Dehradun, which have no pub-scene, people rely on the ‘car-o-bar’. Every evening, alcohol is loaded into the boot and the party is started. In Delhi, on the other hand, one of the problems is the lack of public transport, especially late at night; so people choose drunk driving over getting molested. In cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad, due to weak implementation of the drunk driving penalties, the general perception is that you will get away.

In Mumbai, apart from going to court (after having their licences confiscated), drunk drivers can be fined up to `5,000. Of course, the ‘six months in jail’ part seems to be a bigger deterrent. Most social circles here also have that one scary tale about that one friend who was caught at a nakabandi. These stories help too.

Although Mumbai Police’s campaign first started in June, 2007, it was in December that year that everyone realised how serious they were. It was around that time that the now-popular service, Party Hard Drivers (PHD), had also spotted business potential.

December is back now, and the roadblocks are being freshly painted. Nakabandis have started, and they are only going to get tougher in the coming weeks. There will be no leniency this time either. Over these six years, city cops have reportedly made over `15 crore from these penalties. Stay alert and don’t add to this fund. There are better things money can buy.