Stiffer penalties for drunken driving,cell phone use on wheels

Written by: Pti
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New Delhi, Feb 3 (PTI) Drunken drivers will end up facingharsher penalty of up to Rs 10,000 and could land in jail forone year, if suggestions to amend the Motor Vehicle Act areaccepted.

Besides, people using mobile phones behind the wheel mayhave to pay Rs 1,000 in fine and carry penalty points.

An expert panel has recommended that if 150 mg of alcoholis detected per 100 ml of blood of a person caught fordrunken driving, "he or she may be serve imprisonment of sixmonths which may extend to one year and a fine of ten thousandrupees or both."

For 30 to 150 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, detectedin a test by a breath analyzer, the person will faceimprisonment of up to six months or "with a fine of fivethousand rupees or both."

The recommendations are part of 411-page report preparedby a 10-member committee headed by former road secretary SSundar for overhauling archaic provisions under Motor Vehicles(MV) Act, 1988.

The committee has submitted the report to Union Ministerfor Road Transport and Highways C P Joshi.

Apart from stiffer penalties for offences like rashdriving and jumping signals, the report suggests that "whoeveruses mobile phone or any accessories thereof while driving amotor vehicle shall be punishable with a fine of one thousandrupees and shall carry penalty points."

Use of mobile phone means "any appliance, instrument,material or apparatus used or capable of use for transmissionor reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds orintelligence of any nature by wire, visual or otherelectromagnetic transmissions, radio waves or Hertzian waves,galvanic, electric or magnetic means," it said.

Habitual offenders may even get their driving licensescancelled under the provision.

The committee has suggested overhauling the Actincorporating best road practices in nations like China andJapan to suit the current requirement and minimise the numberof accidents.

The need for amending the present Act or replacing it byan entirely new legislation will be assessed soon, Joshi hadsaid earlier.

The Transport Ministry was in the process of amending theAct for long to meet challenges like safety and security ofroad users and a Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in May2007.

However, it was referred to a parliamentary panel andthe Ministry incorporating its suggestions constituted by apanel headed by Sundar to review the Bill. It submitted itsreport today.

The Committee had held about 40 meetings and incorporated90 suggestions from various stakeholders and experts from theroad sector.

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