Updated May 22nd, 2024 at 15:01 IST

India's Drunk Driving Laws: Rules Clarified for Adults and Minors | Explained

In the aftermath of the tragedy, questions have been raised about the enforcement of India's drunk driving laws and the accountability of underage offenders.

Reported by: Digital Desk
The Porsche car found without number plate, in Pune, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. | Image:PTI
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Mumbai: The Pune Porsche crash caused by a 17-year-old who was under the influence of alcohol, has sent shockwaves through the city. The devastating accident resulted in the deaths of two motorbike-borne software engineers in Kalyani Nagar area of the city, highlighting the issue of drunk driving.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, questions have been raised about the enforcement of India's drunk driving laws and the accountability of underage offenders. Despite stringent laws in place, such incidents serve as stark reminders of the dangers posed by irresponsible behavior behind the wheel.

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Now, as the nation grapples with the fallout of the deadly crash, the spotlight has once again turned to the need for stricter enforcement of laws governing alcohol consumption and driving, particularly among young drivers. The need arised after the accused teen, son of a real estate developer, in the Porsche crash case was released on bail just 15 hours after the accident and this create a massive uproar across the country. The Juvenile Justice Board which granted him bail also directed him to visit the Regional Transport Office and study traffic rules, and submit a presentation to the Board within 15 days.

"The CCL (Child in Conflict with Law) will write an essay of 300 words on the topic of road accidents and their solutions," the order read.

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However, Pune Police had approached a sessions court challenging the bail order and seeking permission to allow the boy to be treated as an adult saying the crime committed was "heinous". The police charged the minor with rash and negligent driving, endangering life, and causing harm under IPC Sections 304A, 279, 337, 338, and 427, as well as relevant sections of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Act. 

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for private vehicle owners is 0.03% (30 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). For commercial vehicle drivers, the BAC limit is even stricter, often with zero tolerance. 

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Penalties for violations for first time offenders include:

  • A fine of up to Rs 10,000
  • Imprisonment for up to six months
  • Possible suspension of the driver's license for first-time offenders

Penalties for violations for repeated offenders include:

  • A fine of up to Rs 15,000, up to two years in jail
  • A longer suspension or permanent cancellation of their driving license
  • If drunk driving injures someone, the driver can be jailed for up to two years
  • If it causes someone's death, the driver can be imprisoned for two to seven years and fined heavily

Drunk driving laws for minors

 The legal drinking age varies by state, ranging from 18 to 25 years. In states like Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, and Manipur, alcohol is completely banned. In Haryana, Goa, and a few other states, the legal drinking age is 25, while most states allow alcohol consumption at 21. For minors, any amount of alcohol in the blood while driving is illegal.

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Action against minor offenders

  • If a minor commits a driving offense, their guardian or the vehicle owner will be held responsible and face legal action.
  • They can be punished with up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000. 
  • The vehicle's registration will be canceled for 12 months
  • If the minor has a driving license, it will be suspended and will not be reissued until they turn 25.
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Published May 22nd, 2024 at 15:01 IST