6 months jail for 1st offence drunk drivers, has been the recommendation of the Supreme Court panel that was constituted in 2014 to monitor and measure implementation of road safety laws in India. The panel, headed by retired Supreme Court judge K.S. Radhakrishnan, has asked states and union territories to respond to its recommendations within three months. So, what does this mean for those who drink and drive?
[Image courtesy NYPost]
1. Your license can be suspended for a period of 3 months.
2. You may have to cool your heels in prison for six months.
Still want to drink and drive? The panel has more in store for you.
If you get caught driving drunk for the 2nd time, you can be imprisoned up to 2 years. And this time around, the Supreme Court appointed panel wants police forces in all the states and union territories of India to get into action and book offenders. Since the panel is seeking “action-taken” reports from the states and union territories across the country, police forces will be forced to respond. So, the next time you plan to drink and drive? Just stop planning.
So, why is the Supreme Court appointed panel suggesting these measures, which may seem harsh to some?
1. 1.41 lakh people have died in road accidents in 2014. To put things into perspective, that’s a 380 people per day and 1 road accident related death every 4 minutes.
2. The number of road fatalities have shown no signs of decreasing.
Drunk driving and the resultant recklessness is said to be major cause of the 1.41 lakh deaths last year, prompting the Supreme Court panel to get cracking on this issue. In the past 6 months, there have been two high profile cases of drunk driving, one of which resulted in a conviction pending appeal, while the other is currently under investigation.
Bollywood mega star Salman Khan was convicted to five years of rigorous imprisonment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder by the Bombay sessions court. This sentencing was arrived at after Salman Khan was found guilty of killing one and seriously injuring four others, after driving his his Toyota Land Cruiser in an inebriated condition. The actor is out on bail and the sentencing will come for appeal shortly.
In June this year, a top executive from Reliance Industries, Ms. Janhavi Gadkar, allegedly mowed down two people while driving drunk. Driving an Audi Q3 on the wrong side of a flyover in Mumbai, Ms. Gadkar crashed into a taxi, killing the driver and one more person in the process. Ms. Gadkar has been granted bail after 58 days in jail even as the Mumbai police is preparing a case brief for prosecuting her.
Meanwhile, drunk driving is only one part of the narrative. The Supreme Court panel has taken a serious view of many other traffic offences.
1. Using your mobile phone while driving can also lead to the suspension of your driving license for 3 months.
2. Other offences that can lead to your driving license being suspended include over speeding, jumping traffic signals, overloading goods vehicle and carrying people in goods vehicles.
3. Riding without the helmet will entail a fine, but before that you need to sit through a safety presentation of at least 2 hours. Still want to ride without a helmet?
While it is true that rigorously implementing the directives of the Supreme court panel has the potential to get traffic offenders in line, on whether the already overworked police forces will go about getting this job done remains in question.