Chandigarh: Getting drunk and then driving has resulted in a hard lesson for at least 10 motorists in Chandigarh with a traffic court not only imposing heavy fines on them but also imprisoning some of the drunk drivers for a day.
The court of the special judge for traffic offences here made five of the offenders stand in the court for nearly eight hours this week after it was found that they were driving on the city roads with an alcohol content of over 100 milligrams (mg) in their blood.
The judge, Deepak Raj Garg, ordered the imprisonment of the motorists indulging in drunken driving "till the rising of the court". As a result, the offenders were made to stand inside the courtroom for over eight hours till the court adjourned for the day.
Motorists found driving drunk were imposed penalties ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,500, depending on the alcohol content detected by the hydrometer (or alcohol-meter).
An auto-rickshaw driver, Vinod Kumar, was fined Rs. 3,500 for drunken driving and not possessing valid documents while driving.
Under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, offenders convicted by a court can be imprisoned for up to six months and fined.
The traffic wing of Chandigarh Police, which recently initiated a sustained campaign against drunken driving in the union territory, now wants to be more aggressive with the campaign.
At least 15 prominent points, including leading clubs, hotels, pubs, discotheques, bars and restaurants have been identified by the traffic police for putting up special `nakas` (barriers) to curb the menace of motorists taking to the wheels after drinking at these places.
"We have decided to put up the nakas at a distance of 100 metres from these places. We had, till now, been focusing on areas like liquor vends and taverns but now the drive will include other leading places as well," Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Vijay Kumar said.
The imprisonment and heavy fines levied on motorists booked for drunken driving have boosted the morale of the traffic policemen.
"Earlier, the courts used to let off offenders with minor cash fines. But now the punishment is strict. We are also taking up with the licensing authority the matter of cancelling or suspending the licences of offenders," a traffic police officer said.
This year, nearly 2,000 motorists have been booked for drunken driving. The majority of them were let off after being fined as the alcohol content was lower than 100 mg.
Chandigarh, a 114-sq km city and joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, has one of the highest density of motor vehicles in the country. There are over 800,000 registered vehicles in the city, whose population is about 1.1 million.
The city gets a floating population of nearly 100,000 vehicles from the adjoining cities of Panchkula and Mohali as also other motorists coming from other parts of Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
Chandigarh Police issues tickets worth over Rs.3 crore for all traffic offences, including drunken driving.