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Hyderabadis in ‘high’ spirits, as ever

NEMMANI SREEDHAR
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Are you continuing to drink and drive? Are you aware that it could land you straight in jail with the period behind the bars ranging between one to three days. There are also instances where some of the offenders had to languish for 12 days!

If you think all this has dissuaded citizens from getting tipsy and driving, perish the thought. Police records show that the ongoing enforcement drive against drink driving has not shown any reduction in the number of cases.

On an average, the Hyderabad city police are netting about 300 motorists each week for driving drunk. Last month alone, the city civil courts had sent more than 100 motorists for a three-day imprisonment for having Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of more than 100 mg per 100 ml blood.

“It is about one-and-a-half years since we took up the enforcement against drink driving. Ideally we should have seen a decline in the number of cases, but the trend suggests otherwise,” admits a senior police official. The only silver lining was that no motorist has been caught for a second time so far, he points out. The city police, in association with World Health Organisation (WHO), started the enforcement drive against drink driving in November 2011 with the breath analysers and other paraphernalia being provided by the latter.

Worthy of emulation

And, ever since the drive was launched, it had attracted international attention and was also declared as a model for the rest of the country to emulate. Over a period of time, the police too had acquired more breath analysers and started implementing the enforcement drive in more areas.

It is a three-tier programme: catching drunk motorists, counselling them and then producing them before a city court. “We have created a system which has not been challenged till now,” claims Additional CP (Traffic) C.V. Anand, the architect of the drive. Section 185 of Motor Vehicle Act specifies that one can be punished by the court of law if he is found to be driving a vehicle with BAC of more than 30 mg per 100 ml blood. “We use breath analysers that churn out a printed statement with BAC levels and these serve as valid proofs for the courts,” Mr. Anand explains.

“The fact that many VIPs, lawyers, wards of politicians and others have been caught for drink driving and none of them have contested our procedures shows that our procedure is correct,” he avers. However, those caught for drink driving allege that the procedure being followed is “oppressive”. “Section 185 allows police to book a motorist with BAC of more than 30 mg per 100 ml blood. It does not specify we have to undergo a counselling session,” R. Rajesh Kumar (name changed on request) complains.

Humiliation

“From the moment the cops catch us we are treated like criminals and humiliated at each and every stage,” he charges. “We are forced to take the test before a camera in violation of our privacy. Then we have to attend a counselling session that has become a punishment in itself as we are forced to wait for a long time. The only import that a person gets from these sessions is that they have to get a stamp on their challan so that they can proceed to the court,” he says.

Police officials on their part say that their intention is to “educate” citizens about the dangers associated with drink driving and how drink driving can harm the innocent too. “We have no problem with people drinking, but they should not endanger others’ lives. Counselling sessions and even imprisonment is to deter people from mixing drinks and driving. Ultimately, we want safer roads,” Mr. Anand maintains.

NEMMANI SREEDHAR

Police records show that the ongoing enforcement drive against drink driving has not shown any reduction in the number of cases


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