The intense crackdown by the city police on drunken driving in the past eight months has seen a reduction in the number of fatal accidents

Young software engineer Vikram Krishna (name changed) would boast that he was steady at the wheel, even after downing three bottles of beer. But not anymore. Being repeatedly booked for drunken driving at night has sobered him down.

Vikram is among the numerous offenders brought to book by the city police in the last eight months when the crackdown on drunken driving during nights has been intense.

The effort is believed to have racked up a record number of cases. It has also led to a reduction in the number of fatal accidents, if only marginally. Driving licences have been suspended by the thousands.

“I have been living in Chennai for a decade now. But in the last few months, I have seen that the police checks have increased,” Vikram says.

Many other motorists agree with Vikram. They say it has become increasingly difficult to evade the police, especially during weekend nights. “I’m getting to see breathalysers these days with cops halting many drivers and riders. It may be a bit irritating but I guess it is for the larger good,” says Senthilnathan, a Virugambakkam resident who works for a well-known bank.

According to traffic police sources, the crackdown enforced at nights follows orders from Commissioner of Police S. George.

Every night, over 250 breathalysers are used to check motorists. “Through a breathalyser, the percentage of alcohol in the blood is ascertained. If found guilty, the motorist is penalised and his licence suspended for six months,” said a traffic constable on night duty at Foreshore Estate junction.

Over 5,000 licenses have been suspended by the police this year and the violators stand a strong chance of their permits getting revoked if the offence is repeated thrice. Some women drivers complain they are asked to blow into the face of the police personnel. However, traffic personnel say it might have been the case a few months ago before breathalysers were put into use.

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