Guzzlers not taking chances with police anymore

Guzzlers not taking chances with police anymore

Bangaloreans are now well aware of getting caught by the police for drunken riding and driving. This awareness has been acute in the last one year when the police decided to intensify checks on drunken driving in the backround of serious incidents in the past that killed pedestrians and early morning walkers.

Because police are to be seen at strategic points and because checks are almost done every weekend and many times on weekdays, people have understood that they are liable to be caught one day or other and at one check point or the other. It is this on the ground campaign by the police since the beginning of 2012 which has primarily enhanced awareness about drunken driving in the city.

Talk to any pub owner and they will tell you how visitors to pubs, younger and older people, take precautions on driving after the pub visit. Ashish Kothare, owner of pubs Legends of Rock in Koramangala and Roadhouse on Indiranagar 100 Feet Road, says  awareness among people about police checking is palpable and high.

“No visitor to the pub wants to have anything to do with the police. They don’t want their vehicles seized, pay fines or visit courts and police stations. For these reasons, groups of friends and families that visit the pubs ensure that one person does not drink in the group on that day. That person is asked to drive friends and family home. Naturally they wouldn’t be at fault as the driver is alcohol-free and the breathalyser will reflect that unless the instrument is defective.”

Kothare says his pubs are frequented by older people and young married couples, though the Koramangala pub sees college crowd too. “When older or younger married couples come, typically the wives turn out to be the drivers. Husband and wife decide in advance that wife would be the driver which means she doesn’t get to drink. While this has ensured coasting through the checks, there have been some complaints that the wives always have to be the drivers. In any case, this formula among couples has worked.”

Youngsters don’t bring bikes to pubs as often as they would two years ago. According to Kothare, youngsters prefer autos to get back home, and if available, taxis. If in case a group is coming, they’d request one member not to drink. That ensures they get through police checks.

Mrinal of Hard Rock Cafe says visitors to the pub have clear plans of how they will get back. “Many would hire autos to get home or ask one member of the group not to drink and that person drives everybody home by personal car. There are also people who book taxis in advance. Then there are people who hire services of our drivers to drive them home. The vehicle is the group’s and the driver is ours. We call this the Valet service. The driver drops them home, and to get back, is paid return auto fare. Overall, people are definite about not wanting to pay fine, interact with police or go to court. No one wants trouble.”

Visitors to Pecos and Mojos pubs on Brigade road are mostly the college crowd and very young working executives. They have an interesting way to deal with police checks - they start partying early and end early. They get back home when it is still fairly busy around 9 pm when checks would not be at their peak. Police checks get quick after 10 pm and are at their peak post 10.30-11 pm goinng on till 1 am.  If partying ends early, you can still head back home after a few drinks because checking wouldn’t have begun yet. For those who stay longer, the practice of asking one person not to drink persists or people hire autos. Youngsters are not too much into hiring taxis.

Visitors to Koshy’s restaurant on St Marks Road also follow the principle of asking one member not to drink or party early and end early so they can go home before checks begin. The restaurant attracts a mix of younger and older people, who typically leave early in the night.

All pub owners say that police checks are so visible and consistent that it has generated caution among the pub visiting people. This awareness has intensified in the last one year compared to earlier times when people would drink and drive home. Kothare says it is like smoking. “People who smoke now ask whether there’s a smoking zone around. Previously they would smoke in any space whether people liked it or not and even violate smoking regulations. But now the awarness has kicked in and everybody naturally ask and gravitate towards smoking zones. Drinking is about caution now - drink, but don’t drive.”

The only ones who take a risk are youngsters who wish to do wheelies in the night. Some are alcoholic among them, not all. Deaths have resulted from the wheelies which has prompted police to intensify checks in the night. As part of this checking, even drunken driving has been taken up.

To circumvent the court and magistrate, people tend to pay the police directly - pay a bribe of Rs 500 and get out of the situation. Else, vehicle is seized and the violator has to appear in court. There are several people who have gone through the process, paid Rs 2,000 as fine for getting back the vehicle and after such an experience, many have given up driving after drinking or do so only when they feel checking wouldn’t happen. In general, people don’t want to take chances with the police.

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