Drink and Drive : Know the implications

drink and drive punishment

Following the trend worldwide, drunk and drive are an offense in India also. The prime facie objective of making this punishable offense is to ensure road safety and decrease the number of fatal accidents occurring due to this as the traffic in India is highly uncontrolled, and everyone is in a hustle to reach the destination.

Alcohol is a state list subject as per the Seventh Schedule VII of Indian Constitution. In states like Bihar, Gujarat, Nagaland consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited. Thus, the laws vary from state to state. Drink and Drive have been responsible for at least 70% of all fatal road accidents in Delhi.[1]


While testing a person for drunk and drive case, a device called breathe analyzer is used. The permissible limit in up to 30 mg per 100 ml of blood (0.03% of B.A.C, i.e., Blood Alcohol Content). Any person exceeding the permissible limit will be charged with impaired driving as per Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. The limit is quite less, for example, even after having a pint of beer, a minimum 90 minutes is required to be able to drive and not get caught by the breath analyzer.[2]

The BAC varies from person to person and is not only dependent upon the amount of alcohol consumed but on factors like body weight, Absorption by blood, etc.

Breath test: This is a test which is carried out for the purpose of obtaining a suggestion of the presence of alcohol in blood if any. This is done by a device which is approved by the Central government.

The breath test can be ordered by any police officer who is present in uniform or by an officer of the Motor Vehicles Department who is authorized on behalf of the government to take such test. The breath test is not conclusive proof after that blood test has to be done to determine by the Doctors conclusively.


If any authorized person mentioned above has a reasonable apprehension of any person driving or attempting to drive any motor vehicle in a public place under the influence of alcohol or drug, can be asked to give a breath test.

Any person denies, fails, omits to take the breath test and provide a specimen when requested by an authorized person, is automatically presumed to be unfit for driving and to be under the influence of alcohol or drug. If the officer is suspicious that the refusal is due to being under the influence of alcohol, then the person can be arrested without a warrant and can be taken to the nearest police station or hospital for the blood test.


Since being under the influence of alcohol, the brain-body coordination is disturbed; thus, the person must not attempt to drive any motor vehicle. As per Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, for a first-time offense of Drink and Drive is punishable with imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or with fine up to Rs. 2000 or both. The Subsequent amendment to the act suggests the change to Rs. 10000[3] (the same has not yet been approved).  If any subsequent offense of drunken driving is caught within 3 years of the first offense, then the punishment is enhanced to imprisonment for a period of two years or fine up to Rs. 20000 or both. The purpose of such punishment enhancement is due to an increasing number of cases and to nab the regular offenders.

If the alcohol content is more then 150 mg per 100 ml, which is considered to be heavily drunk, the punishment will be imprisonment for a period of two years and/or Rs. 5000.

Any person arrested under Section 185 of the MV Act, has to be examined medically within 2 hours of the arrest by a registered practitioner. It is important to understand that if under the influence of alcohol, any person is hurt by the offender, then shall be charged with attempt to commit culpable homicide.[4]

In a recent action taken by Hyderabad in 2016, where it is required by the bar authorities to make sure a pool of cabs to take home drunken people. This trend was followed by Kolkata after a fatal accident of an actress.[5] Safety should be the prima facie concern, and thus everyone is advised not to drive any vehicle under the influence of any alcohol or any drug. Its time for the government of every state to take stern action and reduce the number of casualties because of this reason.

[3] Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016

[4] Charged under Section 308, Indian Penal Code, 1860


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