“Stay Alive, Don’t Drink and Drive”: This is the theme for the 2013 Road Safety Week which the official machinery has been consciously driving home to the general public through awareness campaigns since the beginning of the year.

Awareness boards containing this year’s road safety theme have been put up at vantage points across the city by the transport and police authorities to spread the message of hazards of drunken driving with an appeal to desist from the act.

Even as campaigns are underway on one hand, instances of drunken driving have already begun to surface in the city within days of the dawn of 2013.

The city police have booked nine cases under the head drunken driving in the last two days (January 1 and 2), and collected Rs. 9,000 as fine from the “tipsy” violators.

The figures of drunken driving cases booked by the police within the city limits over the last three years are huge.

A little over 15,000 cases were registered by the city police who collected a whopping Rs.1.50 crore as fine from the violators.

The saving grace was that the cases booked in 2012 were relatively less as compared to the previous two years when it was 3,991 and 7,879 respectively.

In certain cases, the licences seized from the “tipsy” violators were forwarded to the transport department for suspension.

Transport department authorities here say that over 140 licences were suspended by the Regional Transport Officer, Tiruchi and Srirangam for a period of six months for drunken driving after calling for an explanation from each one of them.

Offenders found guilty of drunken driving for the second time attract a minimum of six-month imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2,000, and a maximum of three-year jail and fine of Rs.3,000, say officials.

Stringent measures such as cancellation of licence or suspension of licence for a period of two to three years could act as a deterrent, it is felt.

“Those driving under the influence of alcohol not only risk their own safety, but also jeopardize the safety of the law abiding road users. Alcohol acts as a depressant suppressing the functioning of the brain.

Driving under the influence of alcohol will reduce eye and limb coordination both which are essential for driving and will not allow the driver to respond swiftly to a situation,” says Prof M.A.Aleem, head, Department of Neurology, K.A.P.Viswanatham Government Medical College, Tiruchi.

Drunken driving will give a false confidence to the driver who would either over speed or indulge in zigzag driving both of which could cause accidents, Dr.Aleem adds.

Suggesting even stricter enforcement of rules, Dr.Aleem insists on self discipline which according to him would go a long way in curbing the menace.

A senior transport department official said this time around awareness on the hazards of drunken driving was being created among school students.