90 prosecuted for drink driving as Delhi police resume breathalyser tests
At least 90 people were prosecuted for drink driving in Delhi on Saturday night, when the Delhi Traffic Police resumed breathalyser tests. The practise was stopped in March 2020 in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as multiple people touched the devices used to measure the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath.
According to senior traffic police officers, the drive began around 7pm on Saturday and concluded by 9pm. Nearly 20 traffic police teams were out on streets across the city to check drink driving. The vehicles of several drunk drivers were impounded and many others were issued court tickets, the police said. However, they did not share the exact number of violators and vehicles impounded.
“Now that bars and restaurants in the city have resumed business, incidents of drink driving will certainly increase and it may lead to a surge in road accidents, particularly during the night. To catch drunk drivers, we have resumed our prosecution drive through breathalyser tests as well,” said special commissioner of police (traffic) Muktesh Chander.
After suspending the use of breathalysers, the traffic personnel were spotting visibly drunk drivers and getting blood tests done on them to check the amount of alcohol in their body, and prosecute them for the offence. A total of 300 challans were issued to drunk drivers after their medical examination confirmed excess alcohol in their blood, said a second senior traffic police officer who asked not to be named.
According to police records, about 30,000 challans were issued in 2019 for drink driving. After the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and lockdowns were imposed in 2020, only 3,000 challans were issued.
To check drink driving and prevent road accidents, special teams have been deployed at identified spots where liquor is served till late night and parties are organised, the traffic police said.
Special commissioner Chander said they were ensuring that the prosecuting teams were following Covid-appropriate behaviour, such as wearing masks, using sanitisers and maintaining appropriate social distancing, on duty.
“Breathalysers are sanitised after every use. We are using disposable pipes. For each test, a new pipe is used,” he added.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by a court challan. In case of first offence, a person is liable to pay a fine of ₹10,000 or face imprisonment up to six months or both. For second and subsequent offences, a fine of ₹15,000 or imprisonment up to two years or both are applicable.
Police are authorised to digitally seize the driving licence or registration certificate of the offender in such cases. If the person is from another state and has a booklet or a simple paper driving licence, then it is seized physically. Unless accompanied by a sober person with a valid driving license, the police are also authorised to seize the vehicle of the drunk person.
Breathalysers use the amount of alcohol in exhaled breath to calculate the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood, also known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In India, motorists are not allowed to drive if the alcohol content is found to be over 30 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.