Drunk drivers could be in for more trouble. The Bombay High Court on Thursday urged the Central and state governments to adopt a “zero tolerance policy” towards drink driving. The bench observed that the police should not have to prove if a person has drunk more than 30 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, which is at present the permissible limit while driving drunk.
“Why should a person who has had any amount of liquor be permitted to drive at all?” asked the bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Gautam Patel. They were hearing a petition filed by journalist Nikhil Wagle seeking stricter laws and more compensation for the victims in actor Salman Khan’s 2002 hit-and-run case. The actor has been acquitted by the Bombay High Court.
Salman Khan has deposited Rs 19 lakh as compensation to the victim’s kin as directed by the High Court. The bench asked, “Why should the police have the burden of proving whether the person has consumed alcohol beyond the permissible limit? Mere presence of alcohol should be enough to book a person for drunk driving.”
Several traffic experts and police officers welcomed the step.
Retired IPS officer P S Pasricha said, “It’s a welcome step. Why should the cops have to prove how much amount of liquor one has drunk? In some Western countries, if a person has drunk liquor, they book him. If a person has had alcohol, he should take public transport or hire a radio cab.”
At present, in countries like the United Kingdom and a few others, the law allows up to 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. These countries are planning to bring down the permissible limit to 50 mg. But drunk driving has become a menace in the city, with several high profile cases like that of Salman Khan, and the recent case of advocate Janhavi Gadkar and Alistair Pereira.
On the night of December 31, the Mumbai traffic police had booked around 705 people for going above the limit of 30 mg specified by the law.
What the law says
>> If the presence of alcohol is more then 30mg, policemen will issue a notice to the motorist for appearance before a court. The court may either impose a fine of R2,000 or sentence the motorist to imprisonment for a term of six months. If it’s the second time the motorist has been caught, he might have to pay a fine of Rs 3,000, or face imprisonment for a term of two years.