mid-day editorial: Let's zero in on drink driving

Ordering both the Central and state governments to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cases of drink driving, the Bombay High Court said that just the presence of alcohol in the driver’s blood should be sufficient to charge the person, followed by immediate suspension of the driving licence.

The HC said too many lives had already been lost, and it did not see why the onus fell on the police to prove whether somebody’s alcohol level fell below or above the 30 mg limit.

This came after journalist Nikhil Wagle had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking stricter action in the Salman Khan 2002 hit-and-run case. The news has naturally started a ferocious debate, seeing that it will have huge ramifications in the metropolis that works hard and parties harder.

This paper supports this zero-tolerance policy, simply because it will take a great burden off our already strained cops once they no longer have to prove how much alcohol is there in a motorist’s blood. Also, the common man simply does not know how much booze amounts to 30mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. If you drink a pint of beer, will you still be within the safe limit? What about hard liquor? How do you measure this alcohol level? When a friend coaxes you to drink a small peg saying it won’t hurt you, does it actually put you in the danger zone?

We also see drivers arguing even when cops say they are above the legally permissible limit. These motorists argue that they didn’t drink enough to cross the legal limit for driving, that the cops’ alcohol analyser must be faulty. This rule will end all this, as it will set the rules in black and white.

The question is, if somebody has simply a sip of alcohol, will that show up in the test as well and lead to his license being taken away? These are some grey areas that need clarity, but given the high incidence of
accidents, we think zero can be our hero.

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