Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Delhi gets tough on drink drivers

A poster against drink driving in Delhi
Posters warn Indians of the dangers of drink driving

A court in the Indian capital, Delhi, has ruled that those driving under the influence of alcohol could lose their driving licence.

The order will empower the police to confiscate the licence of a driver who is found to have consumed alcohol beyond the permissible limit.

Critics say a lot will depend on how strictly the law is implemented.

Activists say tens of thousands of Indians die in road accidents every year because of drink driving.

Campaigners have welcomed the court order.

They say 70% of the 130,000 annual road fatalities are caused by drunk drivers.

Delhi is the second Indian city to get tough with drink drivers - similar strict measures in Mumbai (Bombay) have brought down the number of fatal accidents.

Tough measures

According to the new guidelines, Delhi police will have the authority to take away the licence of a driver driving under the influence of alcohol.

The offender would then have to appear before the transport department which would decide whether his licence should be suspended or cancelled.

The new guidelines are part of a campaign to make Delhi safer ahead of next year's Commonwealth Games.

Recently, the Delhi government proposed several tough measures to deal with drink-driving, including a provision for a fine of up to 50,000 rupees ($1,000) for those caught drinking alcohol in public - by the roadside, inside cars or outside roadside eating places.

The proposals also include imprisonment without bail for offenders.

Campaigners, however, say tough laws alone will not work - what is needed is strict enforcement of the laws.

In the past few months, the city police have been doing random and frequent spot checks near pubs and restaurants to catch drink drivers.

But correspondents say many offenders still manage to get away either by paying bribes or because they are influential.

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