Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cabinet agree with tougher penalties under Motor Vehicle Act

The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the proposed changes in the Motor Vehicle Act. This paves way for passing the legislation in Parliament to increase penalty on traffic rule violators across the country.

The new bill which will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha duing the Budget session has provision to slap Rs 500 fine for not wearing seat belt and helmet or for jumping a red light for the first time. The bill introduces fines for using mobile phone while driving.

The fines will multiply in case the same offender violates the traffic rules subsequently.

As per the new provision drunk driving would be dealt with high penality and even jail term. Drunk driving will be graded according to alcohol levels in the blood with a punishment that can go up to a two-year jail term and Rs 5,000 fine or both.

Repeat traffic offences will fetch stiff fines with jumping red lights or not using seat belts and helmets attracting fine between Rs 500 to Rs 1,500. The first offence of using cellphone will mean Rs 500 fine and subsequent infringements can set the offender back by Rs 5,000 in penalties. To discourage the use of cellphones, which have emerged as a key reason for road accidents all over the world, the new bill has proposed stiff fines.

Working on the proposition that higher fines work as a deterrent and can induce greater respect for the law, the Cabinet is expected to clear a slew of amendments in the Motor Vehicle Bill on Thursday. The increase in some categories are up to eight-10 folds over existing fines. The changes intend to make the vehicle owner responsible in case a minor is caught at the wheel.

The proposals to hike fines aim to target the major causes of accidents and fatalities on India's roads - drunk driving, speeding, non-wearing of seatbelts and helmet and use of cellphone. To penalize habitual offenders, the bill incorporates higher fines and longer jail terms for repeat offences.

The disrespect for speed limits could attract Rs 1,000 fine for the first offence. Subsequently, the penalty could be as high as Rs 5,000.

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