Thursday, January 7, 2016

Get tough on drunk driving, change law: Bombay HC to Centre

 The Bombay high court on Thursday directed the Centre to consider adopting a "zero tolerance policy" towards drunk driving and make appropriate changes in the law.

Observing that "too many lives had been lost" to the "lethal cocktail" of drinking and driving, a division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Gautam Patel recommended action against those driving under the influence irrespective of the amount of alcohol in blood. At present, motorists with alcohol exceeding 30mg per 100ml of blood are liable to be charged under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

"We find nothing to suggest that some quantity of alcohol in the blood can be considered 'safe'," said the judges, adding that there was no fundamental right to drink. The HC also asked the state government to direct the police and transport authorities to immediately suspend driving licences of persons against whom DUI cases are registered. Driving licences are being suspended for three months for drunk driving since January 1 in the city.

Calling the permissible alcohol limits prescribed in the law as theoretical, the judges added: "There is, in fact, no reason why any person who has had any amount to drink should be permitted to drive at all. Given the alternatives available, and having regard to the manifest risks especially to third parties, we would strenuously urge the adoption by the Central government of a zero tolerance policy toward drunk driving."

The high court said there was no fundamental right to drink, "let alone to drink any amount and then get behind the wheel of a motor car or on to a two-wheeler. Even the most minute impairment caused by alcohol intake might have the most disastrous consequences".

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