Getting away if you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol will get tougher.
The traffic police have decided to formally arrest drunk drivers and produce them before a magistrate. Earlier, offenders were let off immediately after they paid a surety or bail. Now, securing bail will get difficult.
The move has come after a clarification from the Bombay High Court during the hearing of a petition filed by Nikhil Kishnani (24), who was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in December 2008.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Nandkumar Chaugule, on Monday told journalists outside the high court that the traffic branch will henceforth formally arrest drunk drivers after lodging first information reports (FIR) against them at the nearest police station.
“After the arrest they will be produced before magistrates,” Chaugule said.
A single judge bench of Justice BR Gavai admitted Kishnani’s petition for a final hearing observing that it raised an important question of law, but refused to grant relief to the Wadala resident, who had sought a stay on his trial.
Kishnani’s lawyer, Shirish Gupte, argued that his client’s prosecution was bad in law because the traffic police had failed to follow the legal procedure although the offence was cognisable.
“The offence is cognisable since it empowers the police officer to arrest offenders without a warrant from the court,” Gupte said.
He added the Criminal Procedure Code requires the registering of an FIR, carrying out investigation and filing of a proper chargesheet.
He said no FIR was filed in Kishnani’s case.
Traffic police intercepted Kishnani in Worli on December 26, 2008. He was booked for drink driving after the breathalyser showed his blood alcohol level at 509 Mg/100 Ml as against the permissible limit of 30 Mg/100 Ml.
Gupte expressed surprise that Kishnani was allowed to drive home in the same drunken state after he paid the bail.
Public Prosecutor Pandurang Pol, however, denied this saying the traffic police never allow apprehended drunk drivers to continue driving.
Pol said the vehicle is handed over to a relative or friend.