Mangalore: Watch Out ! Don’t Get Nailed ? City Cops are Cracking Down on Traffic Violators

By Alfie D’Souza, Team Mangalorean
The next time you are heading back home after a hectic day at work or just planning on enjoying the evening driving/riding your vehicle , don’t think you’ll get away with breaking traffic rules. On Friday,15 March between 5pm and 6.30 near the Clock-Tower junction, traffic police (West) booked nearly 36 motorists for violations ranging from riding without helmets, driving without licence/insurance, irregular licence plates, DUI etc;etc; And the department was richer by over Rs 4000 collected through fines. Police Sub-Inspector Gopalkrishna Bhat was assisted by Udaya C H ( Assistant SI), and police constables namely Gajendra, Laxman and Rohit.

This sleepy south Indian city which woke up to the IT boom and increasing of educational institutions over two decades ago is an sad example of urban chaos now. Increasing population of people as well as vehicles have put pressure on the city?s grossly inadequate infrastructure. While modes of private transport jumped leaps and bounds public transport did not keep pace with the population boom. Habitual traffic offenders, take note – you can’t go scot-free for subsequent traffic violations as city traffic police are using hi-tech gadgets like Blackberry mobiles to crack down on traffic offenders.

This BB system cuts manpower, reduces paperwork, stores data in centralized server. Moreover, they help police get complete details of the traffic violators. Even, the system reduces time in serving notices to offenders and puts brake on the possible manipulation by police. Each BB handset has Blue tooth-enabled printers to issue notices to violators on the spot. The present system is time consuming as the officers don’t have to write details of violation, place, and date and vehicle number on ‘check report receipts’ (CRR). But with the latest gadget, officers can issue receipts in less than a minute, and that’s what I noticed while the Assistant Traffic Sub-Inspector Udaya C H was slapping fines on violators.

Sub Inspector Gopalkrishna Bhatt demonstrating the use of breathalyzer device

When all these traffic violators were charged with a fine, many had stories to tell in order to avoid paying the fines-but the police were not ready to listen to any excuses, instead they strictly stick to their laws. Even a male driver who was driving a expensive car ( with PY registered licence plate -you know what I mean??) was hesitating and arguing about in paying Rs 100 fine – no matter how he tried to get away in not paying the fine, the cops were very strict on him, and didn’t care for his richness. He had no other choice than pay the fine. Good job, Cops !
Among the many other cases booked during the traffic check, the cops were successful in nailing a driver for DUI – the driver was so drunk, that he couldn’t even walk straight. The police crackdown on drunken driving should be supported by everyone and those trying to escape by not paying a fine should be dealt with severely. While we’re perfectly entitled to enjoying a drink or two, it’s criminal to put oneself and other motorists at risk while driving under the influence of alcohol. I asked PSI Gopalkrishna Bhat a few questions pertaining to DUI and the laws, and SI Bhat willingly answered my queries. He even demonstrated the use of Breadth-analyser device.

SI Gopalkrishna Bhat said, “It’s sad to note that still after repeated warnings and issuing violation tickets, still some motorists ride/drive without any fear and without following Traffic Rule. When our Indian citizens go abroad and drive there, they strictly follow the rules there, but here they simply ignore and most of them don’t care about traffic laws. Punishing them with fines is the only source to correct their habits. The motorists need to cooperate with us, so we both can deal with a smooth and lawful traffic flow. We have laws, but they need to be strictly amended by the higher authorities”.
Following are some of the questions answered by the SI Bhat :
When can a motorist be charged with drunk driving? What is the procedure for paying the fine?
A motorist caught driving under the influence of liquor beyond permissible limit is liable to be charged with the offence of drunken driving. Legal permissible limit is 30mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Traffic police uses state of art alco-meters (breath analyzers) accepted worldwide to measure the level of alcohol in blood. This is scientifically and legally accepted method all over the world. These instruments are calibrated once in three months with a probable error of +(-) 5%. Therefore, police do not penalize anyone below 40mg per 100ml of blood even though legal limit is only 30. Anyone driving with alcohol level below a reading of 40 is not, repeat not, liable for prosecution.
However, everyone need not be subjected to measurement. Merely, by bringing the instruments close to mouth and asking name of the person indicates preliminary result whether the person has consumed alcohol are not. If the result is negative, no measurement is required and person is allowed to go. If the result is positive, measurement is done using the disposable straw and reading printed using connected printers. Subsequently, the blackberry generated police notice is given to the motorists. No one can be prosecuted without a computerized print out indicating reading and a blackberry print out of mentioning that reading.
However, there is no spot for drunk driving. No police officer is allowed to collect spot fines for this offence. The person given a notice, will be sent to the court and the offender will have to pay a fine there. The punishment for drunk driving is six month?s imprisonment or payment of a fine from Rs 750 up to Rs.2,500/- or both, depending on the judge. If the offender is caught committing the offence a second time, he will have to face imprisonment of two years or a fine up to Rs.3,000 or both. After being issued a notice, the motorist will not be allowed to drive. He will have to leave his vehicle behind and take a cab/autorickshaw home or call a friend or relative to drive him home. In case he wants to take the vehicle using the another person who is not drunk but is free to do so after leaving his original driving license and RC book under acknowledgement with the police officer. Very often, motorists try to avoid legal proceedings by bribing the police officers concerned. However, the best thing to do in such circumstances is to follow the proper procedures and not resort to corruption. Moreover, if a person continues to drive under the influence of alcohol and gets involved in a fatal accident, he will be booked for culpable homicide ? which is a non-bailable offence.
How do I know how much I can drink to remain within permissible limit?
There is no hard and fast rule as it depends on the body constitution, gender, whether; liquor is taken on empty stomach or with the food or the duration over which liquor the consumed. Generally one bottle of beer / 30ml Whisky / Rum will keep the person below the permissible limit of 30 units. However, our metabolism burns about 10 units in an hour. And therefore, larger quantity consumed over longer duration will still keep the person within permissible limits. However, these measures are indicative in nature.
How do I know that the straw is not being re-used?
The police have strict instructions to use disposable straw. You can insist on fresh straw to be taken out in front of you and destroy the straw after you have used it. One is also free to carry his own straw.
What are the documents one must carry while driving a vehicle?
A motorist has to carry the original driving licence and insurance certificate. Photocopies of documents won’t be valid during police inspection after a violation has been committed. However, if a motorist doesn’t want to carry his originals with him all the time, he can obtain a master pass from the nearest RTO. It can be obtained through the production of the certificate of registration, taxation card, insurance and driving licence. Once you have the master card, there is no need to carry other documents.
I don’t want to pay spot fine. What is the other option?
If a violator refuses or does not want to pay a spot fine, he would be required to surrender his original driving licence – for which the officer concerned would give an acknowledgement. He can walk into the police station within few days or a week to pay the fine and get the DL back or the case will go to court, and the offender will have to go by the decision taken by it. In the absence of an original driving licence, the person will have to leave the vehicle with the police. If the motorist fails to appear in court, a warrant will be issued and he will have to face arrest or stiffer penalties.
Can motorists use mobile phones while driving?
Motorists cannot use mobile phones while driving vehicles, and that includes two-wheelers. There are no exceptions to this rule, not even doctors. If it’s an emergency, the driver can park the vehicle on the side of the road and take the call.
When people are involved in an accident, or are witness to one, what should they do?
If a motorist has caused the accident, he should arrange for medical aid and inform the police immediately. If a person is witness to an accident, he should help the victim and note down the details of the accused person before informing the police. Witnesses should not torch vehicles or indulge in anti-social activities. The public should be pro-active, not destructive.
When stopped for a traffic violation, why do traffic cops move ignition key?
It is not a good practice and we do not approve of it. However, let us not forget that large number of violators try to run away when detained by traffic police; some even endangering life of policemen while trying to run over them. You are certainly not the one like them but many others are.
How do I know that I am not being overcharged?
Fine for most offences is Rs.100/-; for over speeding 300 and for Driving Under the Influence (DUI)  up to Rs.2,000 (through court only). However, each officer has a black berry and if you insist on proper receipt there is no scope for you being overcharged. Insist on black berry receipt.
A driver hit and drove away damaging my vehicle. How do I claim insurance?

In case of minor damage and you want to take claim from your own insurance because you have not noted the number of other vehicle or you don’t want to pursue it, go to the police station, ask for a SHD entry and acknowledgement and it will help you in claiming insurance. In case you want other’s insurance to pay for the repairs, get FIR and after the case is charge sheeted, file a claim. But in this case the number of the other vehicle should be known.
I hope some of the above information may help you in your daily routine of driving/riding on the city streets, and will keep you out of trouble from the hands of the law enforcement officials. So follow and obey the traffic rules, because according to the Traffic Police they will be conducting such traffic checks regularly -so don’t get caught operating a vehicle without DL or other required documents. And please DON’T DRINK and DRIVE ! – It’s not worth all that trouble by getting a DUI; You may also put your life and also someone Else’s life in jeopardy.

What are the documents one must carry while driving a vehicle?
A motorist has to carry the original driving licence and insurance certificate. Photocopies of documents won’t be valid during police inspection after a violation has been committed. However, if a motorist doesn’t want to carry his originals with him all the time, he can obtain a master pass from the nearest RTO. It can be obtained through the production of the certificate of registration, taxation card, insurance and driving licence. Once you have the master card, there is no need to carry other documents.