The Indian government has just increased penalty for drunken driving. If you drink and drive, and cause a death, you will be imprisoned for 7 years. Previously, this offence only attracted a jail term of only 2 years. The Government of India took this decision after the Supreme Court said that the quantum of punishment for ‘drunken driving causing death’ was “absolutely inadequate’. Currently, drunk drivers who cause the death of others are booked under Section 304A (causing death due to negligence) of the Indian Penal Code, which awards a two-year prison sentence or fine, or both.
The transport ministry of the government headed by minister Nitin Gadkari has also made other recommendations to the ministry of home affair headed by minister Rajnath Singh. The transport ministry has asked the home ministry to try drunken drivers who cause death under ‘culpable homicide’ rather than under ‘negligent driving’. This will increase jail time to 10 years, and is expected to serve as a serious deterrent to drunken driving.
The reason why the Union Government is cracking down on drunk driving is because drink and drive cases are increasing in India, and are said to be a major cause of many road accidents. When a person drinks and begins to drive or ride, he tends to drive/ride faster than usual. Also, his reaction time reduces, making him and his driving/riding a major risk for other road users.
Another key decision made by the government is that ‘lifetime third party’ insurance is mandatory for all new cars at the time of registration. This is at variance with the current law, that mandates third-party insurance renewal once every year. The new lifetime third party’ insurance will increase the on road cost of the vehicle as such insurance is expected to be valid for 15 years, and hence much more expensive.