While the traffic police continue to crack down on drunken driving, many police booths are often unmanned for hours

In a city that hardly sleeps, night-time is when, taking advantage of thin traffic, youngsters zoom through the roads on their flashy vehicles. And when these young riders have consumed alcohol, the consequences of their daredevilry could be deadly.

A senior official of the traffic police says that creation of awareness on the hazards of drunken driving, along with persistent checking by the traffic police, has actually put brakes on the drunken driving menace in the city. In recent times, the traffic police, working with beat policemen, have begun intensive drives against drunken driving.

Today, most motorists are aware that traffic police personnel are on the lookout at the 120 check-points in the city, breathalysers in hand.

A police officer, going through the procedures, says a traffic policeman uses a breathalyser only when he doubts if a person is drunk. The readings from the equipment are used as evidence to nail the motorist. The police would then impound the vehicle, a challan is issued, and the vehicle will be released only after the motorist produces the receipt of payment (of fine) at the mobile court.

In case of cancellation of the offender’s licence, the traffic police, who have no power to cancel a licence, will have to write to the Regional Transport Officer.

The senior official remarked that they do not differentiate between men and women when it comes to checks against drunken driving.

While walking back home late at night through a deserted lane, spotting a policeman is a huge source of relief.

To give this sense of security even to those in the comfort of their homes, police booths were started across the city. But residents state they are often not manned by policemen round the clock. Some booths remain vacant between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

There are 300 such booths. While some of them are operated for 24 hours, some function only for 12 hours.

These booths amount to mini police stations as residents can contact the police at any time if they are in trouble or need assistance. They can even handover complaints to the personnel at the booths if they are unable to go to the stations.

“There is an improvement in police presence now. A few years back, many booths, even those in localities like Anna Nagar and Adyar that are infamous for chain snatching incidents, were left unoccupied throughout the day. Now there is a respite as cops are present for at least a few hours,” says M. Janakiraman, a resident of Royappetah.

P. Vadivel, of the Federation of Residents Association of Anna Nagar West and Mogappair, says the policemen are not present in the booths in the locality after 10 p.m.

“But during the early hours, the police patrol the locality on bikes,” he adds.

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