Telangana

Police have no power to seize vehicles in drunk driving cases: Telangana HC

Telangana High Court. File   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Justice K. Lakshman of Telangana High Court on Friday made it clear that police do not have power to detain or seize a vehicle on the ground that the person driving or riding the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol.

Delivering verdict in a batch of writ petitions challenging powers of police to seize vehicles during drunk drive checks, the judge said any breach of the direction issued in the matter would amount to contempt of court and action would be initiated against police officers concerned. The magistrate directed the police officers to file charge-sheets in drunk drive cases within three days if they deem it fit to do so against driver, owner (or both) of the vehicle.

The detained vehicle should be released by the police after completion of prosecution, by intimating to the Road Transport Authority officials. Justice K. Lakshman also instructed magistrates to receive the charge-sheets within three days from the date of seizure of vehicles in compliance with rule 448-A (iv) of Telangana State Motor Vehicle Rules-1989.

The judge made it clear that police officers should strictly adhere to the procedure laid down under rule 448-A. If no one comes forward to claim the seized vehicle, the police can proceed in accordance with the law.

During drunk driving checks, a person found under the influence of alcohol should not be allowed to drive or ride the vehicle. However, a person (who is not in an intoxicated condition) accompanying that driver or rider shall be permitted to drive that vehicle on production of driving license. This is subject to section 202 of the Motor Vehicles Act-1988.

If no person is accompanying such ‘intoxicated’ driver or rider, the police should inform nearest relative or friend of the driver or rider to take custody of the vehicle. If none is available to take custody of the vehicle, police should take ‘temporary possession’ of the vehicle. It should be kept at the nearest police station or any other appropriate authorised place for safe custody, the judge said.

The judge stated that earlier the court had held that police do not have powers under the MV Act to take custody of vehicles being driven by persons under influence of alcohols. Directions were also issued in the past to release vehicles seized in drunk driving cases on production of vehicle’s registration certificate, photo identity proof and driving license.


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 4:17:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/police-have-no-power-to-seize-vehicles-in-drunk-driving-cases-hc/article37346879.ece

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