Transport dept. writes to police seeking action; more breathalysers for officials

The era of leniency is over, as far as drunk driving is concerned.

First-time offenders too will have their licences cancelled with the State transport department sending a letter to all senior police officers to this effect.

While the provision to cancel licences of first-time offenders always existed, it was rarely invoked. It was only repeat offenders who were penalised thus. A senior officer said such a move would act as a deterrent to drunk driving.

In its letter, the department asked police to consider driving under the influence of alcohol as dangerous driving. Currently, when the traffic police nabs a motorist on suspicion of drunk driving, he is asked to blow into the breathalyser. If the result shows over 30 milligrams, the vehicle is seized and the motorist produced in court. The motorist’s details are then sent to the concerned Regional Transport Office (RTO) with a recommendation that his licence be either suspended or cancelled.

Usually, first-time offenders would be let off with a warning or their licenses suspended for six months. Now, the transport department has asked its officers and the police to consider cancelling the licence instead of showing leniency.

The transport department has asked its officials to take action under sections 184 (driving dangerously), 185 (drunken driving) and 186 (driving when physically and mentally unfit).

“On Monday alone, we got orders for the cancellation of 70 licences of motorists who were found guilty of drunk driving,” said a transport department official.

The department will ensure all its officers have breathalysers. Transport department officials usually conduct checks on the highways and other major roads. “They will be checking all vehicles including heavy vehicles and two- wheelers on the highways, and even in the city,” said the official.

However, transport department officials pointed out that even if they do get the equipment, they will not be able to penalise the motorists immediately.

“We will have to send them to the police for a thorough check-up. It is only after this that they will refer them to us for either suspension or cancellation of licences,” said an official.

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