Sit beside a tipsy driver and land in prison

Next time you get into a car being driven by a friend who has downed a few drinks,be prepared to suffer the same punishment as the driver if apprehended by officials from the Mumbai Traffic Police department.

Written by Jaidev Hemmady | Mumbai | Published: February 12, 2009 2:22:57 am

Man at wheel under the influence,co-passenger jailed for abetting drunken driving

Next time you get into a car being driven by a friend who has downed a few drinks,be prepared to suffer the same punishment as the driver if apprehended by officials from the Mumbai Traffic Police department.

For the first time in the drive against drunken drivers,officials of the Traffic Department penalised one Lokesh Gholap,a Thane resident who was not drunk but had accompanied his friend,Yogesh Bhoir,who was driving under the influence of alcohol. According to a senior traffic official,this is the first time in the past 21 years that the section pertaining to abetting drunken driving has been applied in a case.

It was on February 4 that officials of the Mumbai Traffic Police intercepted a Maruti Swift vehicle at Modella checknaka in Mulund. DCP Harish Baijal (Traffic) said,“When the officials checked the driver,they found that he was drunk. When the officials asked the co-passenger whether he knew about the driver’s drunken condition,he said he knew that his friend was driving under the influence of alcohol. Hence,considering his action as an abetment to the offence,the co-passenger was also charged under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.”

Baijal said section 188 of the Motor Vehicles Act states that any person who is found guilty of abetting an offence of drunken driving shall be punishable with the same penalty as the driver. “It is a clear case of abetment as the passenger knew that the driver was drunk and yet agreed to travel with him and allow him to drive the car. In such a case,the co-passenger is equally guilty of the offence even if he hasn’t consumed alcohol,” he said.

The two were produced before a local magistrate court on February 11 and were sentenced to pay a fine of Rs 2,000 and serve imprisonment for a day. “The only difference between the punishment imposed on Bhoir and Gholap was that Bhoir’s driving licence was suspended for six months,” Baijal said.

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