With Covid jabs available, Bengaluru traffic cops set to resume drunk-driving checks | Bengaluru News – Times of India
City police commissioner Kamal Pant told TOI: “We are yet to decide on the date of commencement of the crackdown against drunk driving. We are discussing modalities pertaining to the drive and will take a decision after consultations.”
The move to take action against drunk drivers comes in the backdrop of a drastic reduction in the number of Covid cases in the city, commencement of vaccination for police personnel and the pressure to mobilise revenues through penalties in the run-up to the state budget to be presented next month.
A senior police officer said: “With everything, including pubs and bars open now, people are freely moving around. It would be unfair on our part to not penalise those who are driving around the city under the influence of alcohol. We have been getting reports about people coming out of bars and riding/driving vehicles without any fear of being caught by cops. It is high time we bring back order on the roads.”
Traffic police had suspended use of breathalyser, a device used to ascertain alcohol content in a person, fearing transmission of coronavirus during random checks. Even after the lockdown was lifted, cops did not resume the drive because of health protocols in place.
“Suspending crackdwon against drunk driving had also affected revenues,” said another police officer. Traffic police usually book around 40,000-50,000 drunk-driving cases per year in the city and the revenue runs into crores of rupees. However, the number of cases booked in 2020 (till March) was only 5,343. The officer added: “Earlier, the penalty for drinking and driving was Rs 2,000 but it was subsequently hiked to Rs 10,000. Restarting the drive will increase revenue manifold for the government.”
Under pressure from the government to mobilise revenue, traffic police recently started random checks of vehicles to identify violators, who hadn’t paid penalties, amounting to Rs 390 crore, for offences committed in the past. But what has emboldened traffic police honchos to restart action against those driving under the influence of alcohol is the start of the vaccination drive. “When the pandemic was at its peak, cops feared stopping motorists. But now they are being vaccinated and that has emboldened them,” the officer added. On Wednesday, around 600 police personnel, including joint commissioner (traffic) BR Ravikanthe Gowda, got inoculated.
On how traffic police will go about using breathalysers when Covid cases are still being reported albeit not as many as previously, Gowda said: “We are holding a meeting with experts to understand the situation better and to discuss if it’s viable to conduct the test and how to go about it. We will be coming up with a plan of action.”