HYDERABAD: Private sector employee Sudhakar (name changed) had one bottle of beer at a party, got into his car, and drove out of the parking lot, hoping to be home for dinner. As he approached the Moazzam Jahi Market intersection, he was flagged down by a police party and submitted to the breathalyzer.
“But I had only one bottle of beer,” said the young man. But the officer had heard it all before. Almost absentmindedly, he pointed to another young tippler who had just gone through the same routine: he had only one pint, poor fellow.
On Tuesday morning, Sudhakar and eight others of his ilk were marched to the signal at the Hyderabad Traffic Control Room and made to mind traffic for five hours.
This was the stipulated punishment handed out by the Third Metropolitan Magistrate Court to 31 first-time drunken driving offenders.
A total of 100 DD violators were produced in court on Monday, and the judge decreed that first timers whose blood alcohol content measured less than 100 mg alcohol per 100 ml of blood would have to learn what it is like to be a traffic cop and serve their penitence amid the chaotic traffic of Hyderabad.
It was 10 am and the temperature was still only in the mid-thirties but after an hour of waving his hand at an endless river of peak-time traffic, one of the offenders begged to know why he was being made an example of. He was only a first-timer.
Having heard it all before, the traffic policemen paid no need. Officials said the rather like the idea of making first-time DD offenders acquire some first-time knowledge of traffic management.
Inspector M Sreenivas of the Goshamahal Traffic Training Institute said this is a good way to deter people in general from entertaining the notion that drunken driving is just a Tome and Jerry game with policemen. “Not only these 31 people, all those motorists will get the message of what can happen if they are caught driving in a drunken condition.”
Apart from the band of eight who did duty at the Traffic Control Room, two other batches of 10 offenders had to perform at Mozamjahi Market and the Koti intersection.
This is the latest indication that punitive measures for drunken driving will pack a little more menace from now on. Earlier, DD offenders had to do entirely enjoyable public service duties like holding up dainty placards with messages, do some Swachh Bharat sweeping, etc. The five hours of traffic management, like the frog jumps one had to do at school, is likely to be memorable, police officials said.
As per traffic police you can’t have a BAC of more than 35 mg on yyour breath. If you have less than 100 mg and are caught first time, you might get the crash course on traffic management. Since November of 2011, a total of 16,138 people were caught with BAC levels in the 30-50 mg range. By that count, the Hyderabad Traffic Police should have no dearth of unpaid part-timers.