Drunk Driving Accident by Public Works Department (PWD) Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) Claims life of a Pedestrian near Circuit House in City
Mangaluru: If you look at the speeding, driving rash, carelessness of the motorists at night, it is very much scary- and most of these people behind the steering are intoxicated, resulting in accidents leading to deaths or severe injuries. With so many drunk driving accidents taken place in Mangaluru in the past, what has the law enforcement authorities done to curb DUI (Driving Under the Influence)- basically nothing! And that is why we are seeing more and more DUI related accidents- and one such case is the ghastly accident that took place in front of KMC Hospital-Ambedkar Circle (Jyothi Circle) which claimed a life of an innocent auto-rickshaw driver, by a car driven by an intoxicated driver. There were empty beer bottles inside the car- and that’s the proof -that the driver and his friend were on a drinking spree, cruising around the City. Currently, in most such cases where drink driving results in death, the accused was booked under 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (causing death due to negligence), punishable with two-year jail or fine or both.
And now we are looking at yet another drunk driving accident that caused the death of an innocent pedestrian on the night of Sunday, 28 March, where a Public Works Department (PWD) Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) driving drunk behind the wheels knocked this pedestrian resulting in death, near Circuit House Road at around 9.50 pm. The accused is identified as Shanmugam (aged 59), who is an AEE of the groundwater wing of the minor irrigation department-sub division-Mnagaluru, and the victim is identified as A Ananda, aged 62, a retired telecom technician from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), residing in staff quarters in Lady Hill, Mangaluru, along with his wife and has no children. As per the nearby CCTV footage, the accident happened at 9.53 pm on Sunday, 28 March. CCTV camera footage shows the speeding car driven by Shanmugam hits Ananda from behind, thereby tossing him to a distance, and due to the impact, Ananda died on the spot. His wife has filed a complaint in Kadri East Police Station, and Ananda who was arrested was produced before the Judge in the Court today. It is learnt that Ananda’s wife has some health issues, and the tragic death of her husband has devastated her. As per the police, Shanmugam is booked under 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (causing death due to negligence), punishable with two-year jail or fine or both.
Yes, we all know that drunk driving is a major cause of accidents, deaths and injuries in India. Even though there are strict laws about drunk driving, none of them is strictly enforced here- the laws are only in the books. Many cities, including Mangaluru, suffer from poor law enforcement for road safety norms in general and drink driving in particular. Additionally, existing laws here do not meet the international public health organisation’s standards of best legislative practice because they do not differentiate between alcohol limits for the general population and novice drivers. DUI laws in Western and other Asian countries like China, Singapore, and Gulf nations are tough when compared to us. In the USA, a DUI case will cost a fortune for the person who is booked-but here what we have is that you pay Rs 3000 or a little more, and if you have a powerful lawyer-or maybe you could be imprisoned for two years for killing a person or persons.
Drunkenness contributes to careless driving where other people become their prey. The poor feel that their lives are not safe, the pedestrians think of uncertainty, and civilized persons drive in constant fear but still apprehensive about the obnoxious attitude of the people who project themselves as ‘larger than life’. Even if the police on the night beat see a bunch of revellers boozing along the roadside, they turn a blind eye against it. Just look at the youngsters/adults sipping on cold ones/cocktails along the stretch of Kadri Park Road- and the funny thing is that- a police station is nearby. Similarly at the Mary Hill helipad ground, revellers are seen boozing every single night (a bunch of empty liquor bottles scattered on the ground is the proof), and for the fact, IGP Western range residence is nearby.
And with all these bars/pubs taking births just like the “Nandini Milk Parlours’ coming up at every nook and corner, many youths are attracted to these establishments, and therefore incidents, where youngsters are involved in cases of drunk driving are on the rise despite the police (in case) conducting regular campaigns to arrest offenders. Even if a sign is posted on the wall of these pubs/bars stating that “minors are not served alcohol”- who is checking for their age limit? More the young people as their customers, more the business and income- bar/pub owners are least bothered about the safety of their patrons once they drink and leave.
In conclusion, quoting Greek playwright Sophocles, “Laws can never be enforced unless fear supports them.” And it is high time the Centre moved on it and enforced stricter anti-drunk driving laws immediately without wasting more time. What can we do to curb drunk driving? How can we prevent under-age youngsters from getting a driving license? Should those caught driving under the influence of alcohol and involved in serious accidents be given severe punishment (the existing law prescribes two-year imprisonment but the Law Commission wants to increase it to ten years)? Should drunk driving be made into a criminal non-bailable offence? How can we save the precious lives, of both victims and drivers? How can we cope with this serious problem?