Planning to drink and drive this festive season? Beware as cops across the country are gearing up to nab drunk drivers with creative ways. With coronavirus rendering the use of breath analysers highly risky, cops in several states are coming up with new tactics to prevent drunk driving ahead of the party season in the days running up to Christmas and New Year.
Walk Straight, count fingers
Police in Kolkata, West Bengal, is planning to ask motorists at random to deboard and count fingers. Suspects will also be asked to walk in a straight line with cops relying on years of experience to find out if they are drunk. If the person fails either of the tests, they will be taken to the nearest hospital for an alcohol test.
According to a report in The Telegraph, cops in Kolkata were asked on Friday to come up with more news ways to nab drunk driving. Calcutta Police have for months been avoiding the use of breath analysers to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Cops are planning night-long vigils and high scrutiny on roads to curb drunk driving in the city, which sees heavy party crowds in certain areas on the last week of the year.
Police in the dry state of Gujarat are also concerned about monitoring cases of prohibition and drunkenness in the city. In the absence of enough breath analysers and fear of Covid-19 spread, cops in Ahmedabad are going to be checking the eyes of suspects to tell if they are drunk. If a person’s eyes are red, they will be checked further for alcohol consumption, Times of India reported.
The new ‘red eyes’ trick up Ahmedabad Police’s sleeve comes after a circular earlier in the month banned cops from the method they had previously been relying on to catch drunks - sniffing. Yes, several cops in Ahmedabad had been relying on manually sniffing out drunk persons by the smell of alcohol in the breath.
In fact, not just Ahmedabad, cops in several. states including West Bengal had been relying on the practice of manual sniffing to catch drunks. The practice has been widely discouraged as it poses a threat of coronavirus spread. Cops are instead relying on other symptoms of drunkenness such as slurring, red or puffy eyes and inability to be coherent or stand straight.
Cops across states have been using breath analysers with multiple pipes to check alcohol consumption in drivers. However, with the incoming party season, many fear that the number of pipes and devices may fall short, forcing cops to wash pipes ahead of each use. This increases the fear of infection.
Another technological advance has been the introduction of new breath analyzers in states like West Bengal. This particular type of device requires persons to blow from a distance of 5 cm. However, at a time when wearing masks and social distancing is being considered mandatory, cops will be relying more heavily on instinct than technology to keep roads safe this Christmas and New Year.
The coronavirus pandemic has causes grave concerns regarding drunk driving, which has led to 38,000 deaths in the last three years across India. And while one cannot assure if the number of drunk driving cases has actually reduced, reports suggest that the coronavirus pandemic has deeply impacted the number of penalties for the same. In Gurugram, for instance, police only penalized 447 persons for drunk driving in 2020 as opposed to 4,067 in 2019.
With alcohol being the leading cause behind a majority of road fatalities, security forces need to soon come up with new ways to tackle the raging problem on the streets.