Drunk driving or commandeering a vehicle under the influence remains one of the biggest problems for road safety in India to deal with. Not only is drinking and driving against the law, but it’s also among the most dangerous things you could do. Alcohol inhibits your ability to think clearly, which negatively impacts your ability to pay attention and make safe driving choices. If the law isn’t enough of a deterrent, a clear understanding of what can happen when you drink and drive should be enough to discourage this reckless behavior.
Car accidents are the primary danger associated with drinking and driving. Consuming too much alcohol impairs your ability to use your common sense and think long-term, decisions. Having too much to drink also slows your reaction time and makes it difficult for your brain to process information. When all of these factors come into play, it makes for one dangerous and distracted driver. When you aren’t able to pay attention to the cars around you, you’re more likely to get into a car accident. When your reaction times are slower because of alcohol, you might not hit the brakes soon enough, which can cause serious accidents.
Urbanization and growing affluence have to lead to more instances of drunk driving in India. Drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in India under the Motor Vehicle Act. In this article, we look at the laws pertaining to drunk driving in India and the punishment for drunk driving.
In India, drunken driving is common in commercial vehicle drivers. Private car owners and youngsters are also major offenders in these situations. Small bars along the Indian highways are of prime concern to control drunken driving. To make the matter worse the gamble of destiny is that Indian traffic officials are not well equipped with the necessary equipment and know-how required to introduce checks on driving in India. India has laws to check the drunken driving but its effective implementation is still to be worked upon.
The official Legal Drinking age in India
The regulations on the legal drinking age are a bit confusing in India as the legal age for drinking varies from 18 years to 25 years from state to state, while some states have completely banned alcohol. For instance, a state like Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, and others have a legal drinking age of 18 years. States like Delhi, Haryana, and others have a legal drinking age of 25 years, while most states have a legal drinking age of 21 years. Consumption of alcohol is completely banned in the states of Gujarat, Bihar, Manipur, and Nagaland, as well as the union territory of Lakshadweep. However, no matter the age, drunk driving is considered an offense everywhere in India and is discouraged universally.
Alcohol Limit- Drunk Driving
Any person who in his/her blood has alcohol exceeding 30 mg. per 100 ml. of blood, detected in a test by a breath analyzer is said to be driving under the influence or drunk driving. The same also applies to any person who is under the influence of a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle. Despite these rules, it is recommended not to consume alcohol at all when driving and always designating a driver rather than driving under influence.
Drunk Driving – Statistics
Drunken driving has been recognized as a world menace, based on the stats which reveal that road accidents cause 1.2 million deaths and 50 million injuries around the world each year. Some 480,000 of these deaths and 20 million people get injured by drunken driving.
Although drunk driving is responsible for only a mere 1.5% — of the 4,64,674 road accidents in India (2015), Drunk driving accidents have a higher fatality rate than other accidents, the data shows. Thus, as many as 42% of victims of drunk driving accidents ended up dead — a much higher rate than the percentage of deaths in accidents caused by “over-speeding” (30%), “reckless driving” (33%), and weather conditions (36%).
Drunk Driving- Punishment
Currently, Section 185 in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 makes driving under the influence a criminal offense in India. As per the Motor Vehicle Act, driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs is punishable for the first offense with imprisonment for a term of up to six months and/or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees. Second or subsequent offense, if committed within three years of the similar offense is punishable with imprisonment for a term of up to two years and/or with a fine of three thousand rupees.
Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
Driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs. Whoever, while driving, or attempting to drive, a motor vehicle:
(a)has, in his blood, alcohol exceeding 30 mg. per 100 ml. of blood detected in a test by a breath analyzer,
(b) is under this influence of a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle, shall be punishable for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both; and for a second or subsequent offence, if committed within three years of the commission of the previous similar offence, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both. Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, the drug or drugs specified by the Central Government in this behalf, by notification in the Official Gazette, shall be deemed to render a person incapable of exercising proper control over a motor vehicle.
Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 recently. The Amendment bill aims to improve road safety and provides for a higher level of fines and penalty for drunk driving. The penalty for drunk driving under the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 has been increased from Rs.2000 to Rs.10,000.