Driving Under Influence

How many of us have been holed at least once for drink and driving? And how many of us have been holed in for having just one beer or 30ml of our favorite whiskey before getting behind the steering wheel?

I have personally been caught ONCE in my active drinking life thus far and unfortunately for only one pint of my favorite lager. I ended up paying 2000 Rs after a bit of nagging and looking like an ass at a traffic police mosh pit at 1 in the morning. And I was duly pissed off when I got home and switched on my idiot box to see a liquor company advertising responsible drinking.

But how much is responsible drinking? What is the permissible limit to drink and drive? And what are our rights when we are faced with a cop in the middle of the road asking us to test on his breath analyzer? I am not trying to advocate drink and driving today, but there seems to be quite some ignorance and illiteracy about “driving under influence” DUI laws in India. This note will try to give basic info on this subject with my jaundiced opinion as well.

So, do you know why I paid 2000 quid for just a pint of beer before driving? My research shows that anywhere in the world except India I would be within permissible limits of driving under influence because the limit under the Indian law is, unfortunately, the lowest in the world.

The Indian Law: Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 Sec 185:

Driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs.
Whoever, while driving, or attempting to drive, a motor vehicle,-

  1. has, in his blood, alcohol exceeding 30 mg. per 100 ml. of blood detected in a test by a breathanalyser, or
  2. is under this influence of a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle,

shall be punishable for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 6 months, or with fine which may extend to 2000 Rs, or with both; and for a second or subsequent offence, if committed within 3 years of the commission of the previous similar offence, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years, or with fine which may extend to 3000 Rs, or with both.

(You only get a receipt of being caught and will not be allowed to drive the vehicle. You would be required to face the traffic court as early as 730 or 8 the next morning and pay fine as the judge may deem appropriate. )

The level of alcohol in blood is referred to as Blood Alcohol Content/Concentration or Breath Alcohol Content (BAC). It is measured either as a percentage by mass, by mass per volume, or a combination. BAC is a combination of 4 important aspects

  • Quantity of beverage consumed
  • Percentage of Alcohol in the beverage consumed
  • Your weight
  • Hours of consuming the beverage.

So, if you consumed a 330 ml can of beer with 5% Alcohol in about an hour and your weight is 90 kgs, your BAC would be about 0.0308%. A BAC of 0.03% can mean 0.3 gram of alcohol per 1000 gram of an individual's blood, or it can mean 0.3 gram of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Per Indian law, you are screwed if you are caught driving at this stage.

World over the average limit is 0.08% which means you can have 2 more beers for sure. There is no logical rationale for Indian law to take such a hard stance when in many other cities of the developed world it is considered safe to drive with levels as high as 80 mg. There is a dire need to revisit the permissible limit for driving under influence in India. But there is absolutely no hope for such trivial amendments when much larger social and relevant laws like child labor, divorce etc are still lingering in their pre historic days.

One more aspect that can screw your happy ride is that breath analyzer tests are not perfect. The analysers are highly prone to errors, malfunctioning due to maintenance issues and you could end up shown as drunk just because the normal mouth alcohol content screwed up the analyzer or its settings are effed. All analysers make certain assumptions about the people being tested which may or may not be true. Besides, breath analyzer tests are based only on your alcohol content without any respect to whether or not you are feeling the effects of drinking. Rumour has it that sometimes to make an extra buck the straw in which you are asked to breathe through to the analyzer is pre-dipped in alcohol and then you are unnecessarily harassed.

Your Rights :

World over the cops are supposed to mention to you in advance that breathing into the analyzer in optional and you may choose to go to the station and give an actual blood test. I do not know if it’s practiced diligently. In India, there is no such provision. You are almost at the mercy of the cop. If you refuse to breathe into the analyzer, he has rights to arrest you quoting reasons to believe that you may have been driving under influence without any regard whatsoever to the fact that your driving skills are impaired or not..

So guys, the govt has decided that thou shall not drink responsibly and drive like they do not allow alcohol to be served beyond 1130 in Bangalore and like they decided that you shall not shake a leg at your favorite disco for having good time and fun is crime.

Till such time as the perception of responsible drinking changes in our social ethos, here are a few tips that I gathered over my discussions with various groups, on how to counter cops in namma Bengaluru while driving under no influence:

  1. The IT professional try: Always wear your company id card on you with your laptop next to you posing you are a late night worker from one of the IT companies. Chances are you won’t be stopped.
  2. Get aggressive: What the F? When I am going back home from a hard day’s work, you stop me and ask these silly questions???
  3. Army trump card: Kya Sir, Aaj kal army walon ko bhi rokne lag gaye kya?
  4. Avoid them: Avoid any streets or roads where there is a traffic police station as all barricading and testing is done right outside the station for its convenient for the cops to compound vehicles if required.

Some better tips:

  • Designate a person in the group as the driver for later and he shall not drink
  • Do not drink and drive :) hahahaha. I am practicing this on Wednesday, Friday & Satday.
  • Use party driver services. Spot Drivers - +(91)-(80)-66498863. They send drivers to wherever you are to drive you in your own vehicle after you night at the bar. Charges Rs250 for 4 hrs plus rick fare for the driver to get back. You have to book these guys in advance though.
  • Use Easy Cabs or Meru Taxi services



6 Responses to "Driving Under Influence"

Martin said... January 21, 2010 at 3:38 AM

haha....sweetly done ! but i would still recommend no drinking and driving....ppl crashing up, killing themselves and others' usually the buzz around ! doesn't sound too productive does it ! :P toss a coin...loser's the appointed driver for the night....or whatever it can be called in bangalore anyway ! :-/

the spot drivers' a super kool idea ! didnt know this existed ! but since i RIDE in bangalore....im doomed again ! :D

gayathri manoj said... February 1, 2010 at 1:33 AM

Pls get in touch with me. This is regarding a possible photo blog which you can do in mumbai on the derby/ or bangalore and delhi on the upcoming rock on concert.

Also, as a self proclaimed mixologist, we would like to avail of your services for a portal we are creating dedicated to spirits... pls contact me.



bols said... February 1, 2010 at 3:39 AM

THANK YOU! for your recipe on bolsbrandy.com

rolly said... February 26, 2010 at 1:44 AM

Fresh Indian Electronica
Have you checked out the Smirnoff India website? Check out www.smirnoff.co.in They Have Jalebee Cartel and Shaair & Func performing exclusively

ding dong bell said... April 19, 2011 at 8:12 PM

You've obviously never had anyone die while driving under the influence of alcohol... be it the person who did it or the person who didn't.

Drinking and driving should attract stringent punishment.

But before India can do that, we need to fix corruption in the police. Until then, this is just another way for them to make money. They don't really care about filing your charge sheet if the fine you are willing to pay on the spot is big enough...

subhams said... November 13, 2011 at 4:35 AM

thanks for the input, and for taking the effort..

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About Shank

Shank is a cocktail enthusiast & a self-proclaimed mixologist. He likes to experiment with spirits. He has traveled around a bit visiting hundreds of bars and tasting the buzziest of alcohols, cocktails and shooters.

Shank spent early years of his dizziness in Mumbai. He has lived in Hyderabad for long and for the past few years is chilling his glass in Bangalore.

He is currently busy spreading his love for spirits through this blog - Cocktail Nirvana.

This blog is part of his ongoing quest for fine spirits, creative cocktails and classic mixology. These online journals will capture his cocktail inventions, adventures with alcohol, trips to bars, meeting with ace mixologists, lessons in the art of drinking and much more.

This apart, ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at www.mybangalore.com also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

Away from Nirvana