Stiff penalty for drunk driving kicks in under new law

For the first time in Tamil Nadu, a Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court made a motorist cough up ₹10,000 fine for drunken driving and another ₹15,000 for driving under the influence of alcohol and without a valid driving licence on Wednesday.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on July 31 and on August 9, the President of India gave his assent and it was notified in the gazette. An increase in penalties has been stipulated under the law. Following this, the Chennai traffic police had issued an advisory indicating the new fines for various violations.

On Wednesday, B. Santosh, who is additional in-charge of XXII Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, fined motorist Santosh ₹10,000 for drunken driving and another motorist Viswa ₹15,000 for drunken driving and not having a licence.

From Wednesday morning, the photos of the receipts signed by the cashier of the XXII Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, were widely circulated on social media platforms. A few policemen claimed they were earlier instructed that the revised fines would come into effect from August 16, but later were informed that it will be done from August 20.

“For all other offences, the fine amount appears on the e-challan device and he/she can pay it through net banking, post offices or using credit/debit cards and other modes of payment. However, for drunken driving, the motorist has to pay the fine in the mobile court only,” a police officer said.

“Once a law is passed, the Judiciary does not need a separate circular to implement it,” said a source from the court. On Wednesday, the same magistrate ordered two-day imprisonment and a fine for a man who drove a heavy vehicle under the influence of alcohol in Periamet police station limits.

Senior transport and traffic police officials welcomed the move. “On an average, 33 persons die in Tamil Nadu every day due to accidents caused by drunk drivers. So such heavy fines will be a deterrent,” said an official from the transport department.

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