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Drunken drivers on rise in the city

The City Traffic Police statistics this year shows a seven per cent increase in the number of drunken drivers as compared to 2007. This year 29,608 cases have been registered till December 13. In this month alone the Bangalore Traffic West and Traffic East recorded about 957 cases reported against drunken drivers. 27,644 such cases were registered last year.

K. Srinivasa, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic East) said that the department in different corners of the city has installed 100 Alco meters, a breath alcohol tester, to check the drunken drivers. "We can give warning to people but we can’t stop them from drinking," he added. He further said that during the breath analyzer test, people caught for drunken driving foul-mouth the police officers on duty. B.Shivkumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic West) said that people are not following the rules. He also blamed the lack of awareness among people regarding the quantity of alcohol that should be consumed. "People don't know the difference between drinking and getting drunk," he added.

Mohammed Sajjad Khan, police inspector, Traffic East said that drunken driving has increased mainly because drinking-related road accidents have been continuous, despite adopting effective measures. "Drinking is a social stigma now, "he added. He further said that 'special drive' a category of police has been specially allotted to spot the drunker drivers in the city. However, the city dwellers seem to think it is their individual right to drink and drive. “What is the problem in drinking and driving? We pay taxes,” said Rahul Pretam, a software engineer.

roshanrk's picture

I think the police needs to

I think the police needs to advertise how much alcohol is ok and how much is too much and liable to be punished. Also, people need to know beyond what reading on the alco-meter are you considered legally drunk.

This will help in 2 ways. People will realize how much is ok and when they need to hire an Auto to get home. Also, the cops cannot take you for a ride by claiming you are drunk even if you've just had one mug of beer. After this info is available, only strict enforcement will deter people. Since alco-meters are available as evidence, once the reading is taken, the person will have to pay up the fine or spend time in jail.

The cops don't have to take any abusive language from anyone once they have the required proof. If a person acts too cocky, arrest him and let him spend time in jail. Without being strict and assertive, nobody will take these drives seriously.

DUI punishment

DUI (Driving Under Influence) - is the US acronymn for drunken driving.

There are *strict* laws for DUI in the US. One can be convicted of manslaugher (similar to murder) and could be imprisoned for life or at times even the death penalty.

In India, the Indian Penal Code provides a maximum of 2 years in prison for DUI.

We recently saw the case of Karthik Somiah. He had even killed a man much earlier. Karthik Somiah was on a two wheeler then. Today even after killing three people in Indiranagar, he is out on bail and he will spend a maximum of 2 years in prison, if at all. 

Coming to the current topic, DUI is increasing since October 2008, because of the economic slow down. It is common to drown in your sorrows during such hard times, but then that is no excuse for reduction of VAT on kingfisher!

IMO, the Indian Penal Code needs to be massively amended w.r.t DUI and a charge of manslaughter should be applied to those who kill people while DUI.
idontspam's picture


I was pulled up for suspected DUI donkeys years ago after having some fun in cape cod driving into Boston. I passed the tests as the alcohol hadnt kicked in yet. He had caught me just out of the pub. What he told me politely when he let me off still rings in my ears. He said "I am asking your friend to drive because not only do I want you to reach home safely but I dont want you to put other innocent people at risk". 

Vasanth's picture

Friday Nights and Saturday Mornings Risky to walk

I go for walking after dinner and again in the morning. I found it is highly risky on Friday nights and Saturday mornings because of the weekend beginning of the 'IT folks'. On one friday night, I was about to be hit by a Santro who was on the wrong side, came rashly and stopped just behind me with sudden braking. He poked out of the car and said "Just for fun dude". I just told him, "It is your turn dude, come out, I will do the same thing to you and you have the same fun".

Footpaths are very bad near my locality (Kattriguppe), where footpaths were made not even 1 feet wide for road widening, forcing us to walk on sides of the road. This makes pretty dangerous to walk especially on the main roads. Again we have the transformers, parked vehicles obstructing the walking path.

Somiah's accident on Saturday morning is another evidence for this. Pedestrains and morning and late night walkers, please be extra careful or skip walking on Friday Nights, Saturday Mornings, December 31st and January 1st early morning.

With due respect to the court, I felt the decision given in favour of Karthik Somiah even after repeated accidents upholds the judgement which is not at all concerned about "human lives" and not peenalising "drunken driving". 50,000 rupees bail is a throw away for a person like Somiah. The lawyer aruged "it was unintentional killing". But drinking was intentional right? Why the case was not taken to the higher courts is the question.

s_yajaman's picture

Karthik has only gotten bail till now - correct

He has not been let off.  I think there are guidelines on how long a person can be held in jail  without bail.  The ought to seize his passport at once or inform Indian immigration on this offence so that they at least are in the know.

He needs to pay and pay through his nose.  One cannot drink and then kill 4 people and then claim it was carelessness or unintentional.  He is a repeat offender at that having knocked down and killed a pedestrian some years back.  5 years at the minimum.

The IMV is very weak and I don't know why there is no political will to amend this to keep with the times.


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

blrpraj's picture

make drunken driving non bailable offence

If you ask me, drunken driving should be made a non bailable offence. The onus and responsibility should be on the person drinking.

Let me explain what i mean by the 2nd sentence..when in the US, since I am fully aware of the zero tolerance towards drunk driving and I since I am fully aware of the consequences, i totally avoid any alcoholic beverage to be on the safe side if I am the primary (and only driver); if I am not only then do I take a few sips. Not just me, but a lot of people whom I know do this to stay a mile away from potentially drastic consequences later. The argument of "i didn't mean to kill people..or it was unintentional..isn't going to fly in court". (DUI ultimately means diffculty in getting job, suspension of licence, most often refusal of immigration benefits for immigrants etc. basically a lot of trouble and hassle for a DUI on your record).
Now given the Indian context, considering that you can almost get away with a lot of things in India, drunken driving should be made a non bailable offence with 5 to 10 years in prison for people to take this offence and potential consequences seriously so that the person drinking will (hopefully) conciously evaluate before drinking and make necessary arrangements with friends etc. to have somebody else drive/ride because the first thing that will come to his/her mind would be that a good part of life would be spent in jail if something goes wrong. US need not be the benchmark of what we do, i am sure there are other countries with better benchmarks, heck we could start our own benchmark with coming out with a system that works effectively in curbing this menace.
Vinay's picture

Drinks maadiddira saar???

The number of alcometers with the police should be increased at least tenfold. Currently, many poor police constables smell the driver's breath to judge whether the driver is drunk.

It happened to me the other day. I was coming home late from office, and I was flagged down by the police near Cauvery theatre at around 10:30 PM. The constable came up to my window and asked, "where are you coming from?" I replied, and noticed that he was trying to get close to smell my breath!!! I felt akward and moved back a few inches and he got really suspicious. He asked a direct question: "Drinks maadiddira saar???" and told me to blow out. He let me go when he realized that there was nothing to smell barring curd rice and filter coffee!!!

Poor guys, sometimes I really feel for them. What rotten things they need to do in the course of duty. Seriously, the number of alcometers needs to be increased at least tenfold, if not more!!!

Only 2 years in prison for Karthik Somiah

According to the Indian Penal Code, Section 304 and Section 304-A, a maximum of 2 years in prision would be awarded for any offence such as causing death due to negligence.

There is less ground to charge Karthik Somiah under Section 304, but there is enough ground to charge him under Section 304-A which governs the act of drunken driving in it's ambit.

I read that the counsel of Karthik Somiah is arguing that his (Karthik's) car tyre was not inflated appropriately. Be that as it may, it still amounts to gross negligence. Even if the tyre was not properly inflated, it does not mean that the pegs did not influence him.

So, Karthik Somiah will get away with 2 years in prison or if he is resourceful enough, manipulate the judiciary and get acquited like he did in his previous act on a two wheeler.

IMO, there is urgent need to reform Section 304 - A. There should be a subsection for DUI which makes it a grave offence to move down a person when DUI. If a person is killed while DUI, then life imprisonment should be awarded.

I doubt the top netas and babus would want such a stringent act. That is because they have kids like Sanjeev Nanda and not to mention Puru Raj Kumar who moved down pavement dwellers!

s_yajaman's picture

A couple of history lessons need to be given

Agree with MC.  Need a couple of (sorry to pick on them) high profile characters to go into a lengthy jail term for such accidents.  People will realize that the game is up. 

Sanjeev's parents/lawyer claim he was only 18 then and therefore such a harsh jail term should not be given.  What can one say.  If he was that young and innocent then he should not have been DUI. 


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

The 11:30 PM deadline

In hindsight, i believe the 11:30 PM deadline for serving alcohol did well. If there was no such deadline, imagine the number of drunk driving cases on Saturday morning and Sunday morning. We would have more accidents like the one of Karthik Somiah's.

Atleast now we should appreciate such preventive laws such as the 11:30 PM deadline. 
narayan82's picture

11 30 deadline

The problem isnt people being unware of the rule but its plain simple arrogance. Most people belive that they can judge themselves, and decide if they are drunk or not to drive. You can hear stuff like "I have a higher limit than normal people" or "I am a very careful driver." I'm sorry but none of these work!

What we need is immideate punsihment for those found guilty. Hence, if you are caught DUI of alcholol and the meter shows you are too high, then they must be immideatly put in lockup. Its amazing how easily you can get away with a 3000 rs. fine!

Maybe  we should have a volunteer driven night drive - to educate people.

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer

Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
begeprasad's picture

With all due respect

Passing of tougher laws is one thing. But I'm sure we are all aware, how difficult it is to implement those laws. It always boils down to executing/implementing the law, which will be a deterrent to the offender. Now these offenders indulge, knowing damn well that even if they are caught, they can escape, by making use of money, power connections etc. And all this is possible because of corruption. So even if we get our law makers to pass tougher laws, I guess it'll be the same story, unless it is implemented, irrespective of who's son the offender is, or what connections he has or how much money he can part with. Peace Guru


blrpraj's picture

re:With all due respect

Agree with you on the implementation part.  

But one of the reasons why in a previous post I have advocated  making drunken driving a non-bailable offence with mandatory (automatic) prison term if convicted in a court of law is because It automatically removes a loophole for people with money and connections who just for "eye wash" get arrested and get tried in court but get away scot free on bail without spending a day in jail. As to whether they can manipulate the court trial itself (bribe the judge/cops, intimidate witnesses) etc. that needs to be addressed in a separate forum that discusses problems in the judicial system.

Also, imagine what would happen with having lax laws in addition to the already pathetic state of implementing those laws? For example police are rendered powerless since they cannot arrest anybody who commits an offence that involves punishment of less than 7 years (this law was passed without debate if the article is to be believed!!)

Unless drunken driving does not lead to spot arrest (legally after procuring necessary evidence like breath sample and police video tape) it is going to remain a joke. Imagine the fear that it would put into people if the know that they will get arrested on the spot if caught and will not have possibility of bail for at least 5 years.
optimist's picture

Rise in drunken driving? Do we understand how to interpret data

Are we missing the point? what richa has quoted are the statistics of enforcement of drunken driving by police...and not the occurence or incidence of drunken driving...there may be 1000 times more cases actually... and police only catches or can catch only a small fraction. Suppose next month police does not book a single case and do nothing...wil that mean that drunken driving has dissappeared? on the contrary if they become too strict and book 500% more cases does that mean drunken driving has increased by that proportion? Do we know how to interpret data? Think!
justathought's picture

drink but don't drive

I think thats where ppl have to draw a balance with reason and thought. All over the world laws are stringent enough for Driving under the influence or DUIs. Simply put, make laws that make an individual think of consequences.Increase fines, Increase Insurance, suspend licenses. Provide round the clock safe commuter options for ppl staying out late and need to get back. Govt should provide assistance for basic facilities. People drink and will drive back only because other means and deterrents are clearly lacking. They don't need to fear law and the law doesn't need to tie you down. Rather, Law should promote individual responsibility. Drink but don't drive.

silkboard's picture

the problem or absence of real data

dear optimist, you have asked a very good question - do we have real data to show the drinking-and-driving trend?

The data could come from customer records of the pubs and bars (and the so called "family restaurants!). Growth in beer/liquor sales would definitely give some data that we can extrapolate.

Actually, in general, we have a data problem in the city. I bet civic agencies collect some, but we the people have no stats available that we can use to monitor their performance. And absence of data and metrics can lead to opinionated talk and nothing else.

Vasanth's picture

Drunken driving monitoring not for VIPs

I have seen police checking for drunken driving, but, mostly for 2 wheelers and for small cars. They are afraid to check the Big Cars and SUVs since they think VIPs or relatives of VIPs will be travelling in these hifi cars and SUVs. This is not necessarily for drunken driving checking, even for documents verification also.

This leads to many loop holes recently being Karthik Somiah's hit case at Indiranagar.

blrsri's picture

Different Stats

 Liquor sales have indeed zoomed in Bangalore and one proof is from my a day job she works in a factory which cleans and recycles liquor bottles and shes always in a hurry these days..

The reason she quotes is that shes started getting overtime money at the factory because the load is very heavy since last month and the number of bottles she cleans has simply skyrocketed!

And for sure  a big percentage of people who empty those bottles will be on the road at any given time..and drunken driving accidents are inevitble!

silkboard's picture

Vasanth, not sure of that

Known big VIPs or Mercs and BMWs could be one thing, but I have seen police stopping big cars as well at the spot on airport road near HAL. I don't have a small car, and I have been stopped (2-3 times in the night, and 3-4 times at another spot nearby in the afternoon for paper check). I think they go by who is driving - younger looking folks, or lot of young folks in the car - you'd be stopped. Also observed that wearing a seat belt reduces the chances of you being stopped - perhaps they assume you are a good driver.

The constable stops you, asks you to roll down the window, and pops in his neck, to come close to you (I presume to 'smell'). I smile and say "good job, keep going", and make some conversation to know what their stats are. He says about every fifth-sixth guy they stop. "Aye, il baare ..." from his colleague interrupts the chat, and I drive away.

I wanted to ask how they decide whom to stop, but have not because it may be a bad question to ask - why ask them to give away their "trade secret"!?

justathought's picture

another case .... is this the way? is this the right example? 

For all those who haven't  read the Deccan herald news about Actor Diganth being pulled over for drunken driving..BUT let off coz he was an actor!!!!

Shame on you Diganth for not abiding by the law. You had a chance to set an example and you blew it. Add to that,  you were with a chick, stupid enough to buy you out instead of talking sense into you to follow the law! Being an actor isn't above the law. Lowlife junkies..a shame to my society!

What happened to the same media that slammed Karthik Somiah and the authorities to take action  when Somiah mowed down ppl under the influence? Could it not have happened to this two bit "actor"? comment guidelines

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