If you happen to be reading this, you or someone you know may have been arrested for and convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. Death lurks at every corner of the street with the sharp rise in people’s tendency to drink and drive. According to recent reports, over 30,000 more people died in road accidents in India in 2010 as compared to the 1.25 lakh deaths in 2009.
You might not even be the one doing the drinking or the driving – most passenger deaths are a result of car crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. Should those caught driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and involved in serious accidents be given a more severe punishment? Should drunken driving be made into a criminal offence? The existing law prescribes a two-year imprisonment, but the Law Commission wants to increase it to 10 years. These are some of the questions that India has been pondering over for a while.
Killer on the Road
Asserting that reckless drivers who play with the lives of pedestrians don’t deserve to be shown any leniency, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by Alistair Pereira, directing him to undergo the three-year imprisonment slapped on him by the Bombay High Court for mowing down seven sleeping labourers under his wheels over five years ago. He was initially sentenced to six months of imprisonment by a Mumbai trial court. Finally in January this year, the Bombay High court intervened due to public outcry against this petty sentence for an offence that statutorily attracts a maximum jail term of three years.
Need for Speed
While most Indian roads are not exactly vehicle friendly and with the country’s bad traffic sense, there are a lot of youngsters that navigate the city’s roads without reaching the permissible driving age limit. Fatal accidents are the result of a speed demon mentality along with drinking under the influence.
Intoxication can result in bad judgement, leaving you feeling invincible, or, seemingly confident enough to drive you or your friends home. An alcohol drinker may lose their sense of distance, a particularly necessary aid when on the road.
If you are headed for a night out on the town, it’s best to adopt a designated driver system or better still, to use public transport. Intervene if you see anyone driving in an intoxicated state. After all, enjoying a drink and getting behind the wheel is just not worth it.
Your Voice – Do you think it’s alright to drive after one drink?
Juhika Desai (18, BMM student) : Yes it is alright because the Mumbai Police have permitted a certain amount of alcohol intake of approximately 30mg/100ml that is indicated through the use of a breath analyser. Thus, I think it’s fine if people drive after consuming just one drink. If that single alcoholic drink does not exceed the limit permitted by the police, then that is absolutely fine.
Gautham Subramaniam (27, Finance professional) : I don’t think it’s alright to drink after consuming a single alcoholic drink. Then again, once someone recognises that he or she has had one too many, they get a little more alert, aware and careful. At least I do. But I wouldn’t take the risk, because it’s not worth it.
Rutika Yeolekar (18, Student of mass media) : No. I don’t think it’s alright because sometimes people can’t handle even a single drink and by doing this one not only risks their life but also the lives of several other people around them. It’s not about how much you drink but about how socially responsible you act.
Apoorva Nanjangud (19, Student of mass media) : In my opinion, it all depends on an individual and varies from person to person with regards to what their drinking capacity is and how much they can sustain. Some people tend to get high even after one drink, so to keep it fair and equal, either drinking and driving should be ruled out in total, or else all pubs and bars should do away with their parking lots!
Akshay Yeole (19, Engineering student) : One drink is totally allowed as long as the alcohol content in the person’s blood does not exceed the limit stated by the law. If the person can tolerate it and knows his limits, road safety rules and is cautious when driving, then why not?
Tapan Nath (24, Student) : I don’t feel it’s dangerous to drive after consuming just one drink. But that also depends on one’s alertness. If a person feels he is drunk, he shouldn’t drive. But according to me, after just one drink, I don’t think it’s deadly. But then again, it’s better to skip the risk if you are not feeling confident.
Volume 1 Issue 9