BENGALURU: City Police Commissioner Praveen Sood’s tweet on consuming alcohol before driving has gone viral on social media and has triggered a heated discussion among netizens. It has also not gone down well with activists fighting against drunken driving.
“Just (because you) consumed alcohol (before) driving doesn’t make (you) guilty...(You) may still (be) within 40mg/100ml (and) safe legally. Repeat legally. Don’t panic,” Sood tweeted on Tuesday.
In India, the permissible blood alcohol level is low compared to other countries.
Bengaluru Traffic police officials say legal permissible limit in the country for driving is 30mg of alcohol for every 100ml of blood. “We are booking cases against drivers whose blood alcohol content is 40mg and above since alcometers have a five percentage chance of error,” a senior traffic police officer said.
In countries like the US, the UK, China, Canada and Malaysia, the permissible blood alcohol level is as high as 80mg. The Union government is now considering to further reduce the permissible limit from 30mg to 20mg.
“It’s not practical to increase the permissible limit in Indian conditions. Foreign drivers are more disciplined and follow traffic rules unlike our motorists,” a traffic police official said.
A few motorists say they are harassed by traffic police. “Some policemen don’t even check whether it is within 40mg,” said a motorist.
Experts say the number of drinks consumed may not indicate the measure of intoxication as it depends on physiology and varies according to body weight, gender and body fate percentage. Responding to Sood’s tweet, Prince Singhal, road safety expert and founder of NGO Community Against Drunken Driving, said, “Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level varies according to age, weight gender, pregnancy, medication, water levels and other factors.”
“Even if someone has had the same two pints of alcohol the ability to drive a vehicle can vary between a woman, a teenager and a man. 30mg/100 ml does nor ensure that you are not a drunk driver. Driving impairment begins as low as 2mg/100ml. Driving sober is the best and the most intelligent option,” he said.
He added, “Bengaluru is a city with a large population in the age group of 21-30 years, living independently and financially well off. All this combined with easy access to alcohol makes it a haven for drunk driving. Even if there is prosecution in place there are not many initiatives to bring about a behavioural change.”
Singhal said drunk driving results in 70 per cent of road accidents and is the single largest road safety hazard. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a separate section under IPC to punish those guilty of driving drunk, killing and causing injuries,” he said.