Drunk driving cases surge 5 times post-pandemic

City Health

Bengaluru Traffic Police said that the resumption of use of breathalysers resulted in a sudden increase in the number of cases.

Bengaluru City witnessed a five-time increase in the number of drink and drive cases after the resumption of use of breathalysers at the end of  2021.

The use of breathalysers was discontinued for almost two years by the Bangalore Traffic Police Department in the wake of the  COVID-19 pandemic earlier in March 2020.

A total of 5343 and 4144 cases of drunk driving  have been reported in 2020 and 2021 by the Bengaluru Traffic Police Department.  However, the recent data shows that 19,774 of such cases have been reported in the city as of September this year.

Syed Nizamuddin, Sub Inspector at the Krishnarajapura Traffic Police Station said that during the pandemic, breathalysers were discontinued and the traffic police had to check the blood sample of the offenders with  their consent from a nearby hospital. “Most of the time, people do not cooperate and won’t give their consent. In such a case we have to convince them to do so,” he added.

Breathalyser, a device used by the Bengaluru traffic police is used for measuring the amount of alcohol in a person’s body. Under the new Motor Vehicle Act 2019, if the amount of alcohol in a driver’s body exceeds a limit of 30mg per 100 ml of blood, then the authorities can initiate punishment against the person that would mount to six months of imprisonment and/or Rs.10,000 fine for the first offence and two years imprisonment and/or fine of Rs.15,000 for the second offence.

Raghu, a police constable who works in the  court police department of the Madiwala Traffic Police Station said that even though the fines imposed for a drink and drive case have been increased to Rs. 10,000 from Rs.1200 earlier, the public is not aware of the seriousness of the matter. “Public, especially youngsters are not afraid of  law and order. They just pay fines and continue committing the same offence,” he said.

M N Sreehari, a former professor for postgraduate studies for Highway Technology who currently works as the Chief Executive Officer for Consortia of Infrastructure Engineers and Intelligent Traffic Solutions said that the opening of bars and pubs after the lockdown has increased the alcohol consumption  by people which directly increases the number of drink and drive cases.

Liquor vending outlets including bars and pubs sold 171.2 lakh carton boxes (CB) of foreign liquor and 104.4 lakh CBs of beer in the first quarter of 2022 whereas it was 154.2 lakh CBs and 45.4 lakh CBs of foreign liquor and beers respectively in the same period last year.

Amarnath T M, a BBA student at Christ University said that when breathalysers were not used by the traffic police, a lot of people took advantage of the opportunity and committed offences of drink and driving. “I have seen this and I understand such habits cannot be changed overnight,” he said.

“The process of having a cap on alcohol sales is present in other countries, why can’t India also implement that?” Professor Sreehari said. He further said that the way to regulate the cases is by strict actions by the authorities. The offenders must not just be fined but should be arrested and presented in court. He also said that a limit should be decided for the sale of alcohol to a person to curb these situations.