Life term if drunk drivers cause death

Life term if drunk drivers cause death

Deaths due to drunken driving may soon be treated as culpable homicide and will attract a 10-year jail term or life imprisonment.

This clause will be included in the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill, which is pending in Parliament, a senior official from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways told DH.

If deaths due to drunken driving are treated as culpable homicide not amounting to murder, under the Indian Penal Code they could attract a 10-year jail term or even life imprisonment.

Under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is punishable for the first offence with six months’ imprisonment or Rs 2,000 fine, or both.

A second offence within three years may result in imprisonment that can extend up to two years or Rs 3,000 fine, or both.

Earlier, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport and Culture headed by TMC leader Mukul Roy, which vetted the Motor Vehicles (Amendment ) Bill 2016, had recommended to the government to treat deaths due to drunken driving as culpable homicide.

The panel suggested that if a drunken driver commits an accident, his action should not be construed as mere negligence,  but as premeditated commitment of a crime.

In such cases, the driver should be punishable under the relevant provisions of the IPC, depending on the consequences of the accident, it said.

The panel also suggested that international testing norms could be prescribed for breathalysers and other parameters to determine drunkenness. The ministry discussed the standing committee report and decided to accept its recommendation on drunken driving.

In 2015, the intake of alcohol or drugs by drivers resulted in 16,298 road accidents and 6,755 fatalities in the country. India tops in global road accident fatalities, with about 1.46 lakh deaths in 2015 when the total number of accidents crossed the five-lakh mark.

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