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How WhatsApp is Helping Hyderabad's Drunk Drivers Escape Check-points, Plot Alternate Routes

Representative image.

Representative image.

Several groups proliferate this popular messenger app, where drivers alert each other about the presence of various ‘check-points’ and police personnel across the city.

Hyderabad: They’ve decided to flout rules and now they’ve also found a way to not get caught. This is the story of Hyderabad’s drunk drivers.

With the number of check-points across the city to nab people driving under the influence of alcohol increasing, it has become difficult for many to escape cops after a usual party night. But WhatsApp seems to have come to their rescue.

Several groups are being created on this popular messenger app to alert each other about various ‘check-points’ across the city, so that others can skip them and take an alternate route.

For instance, a person travelling a certain distance will alert other members in the group about other check-points along the way. This would help others, who are usually under the influence of alcohol and want to escape being caught by police, pick an alternate route.

There is heavy police deployment in areas like Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills, Gachibowli, Madhapur and Begumpet as they are dotted with pubs.

Users in such groups also inquire about the presence of police personnel along the routes and whether or not checks are being conducted at a particular location. If any of the recipients in the group is in that particular area, they pass on the required information.

In a few cases, members of the group check ‘Google Maps’ to see if there is a traffic halt, indicated by the colour red, in areas where checking is usually expected. They then send a message alerting other members of the group about the possible presence of police in that location.

“It helps to avoid those locations where police are present, especially on Saturday nights. If I have to go to Begumpet from Jubilee Hills, I ask in the group if anyone is aware of the check-points,” said a group member on condition of anonymity.

The demand to be a part of such groups is on the rise, which is their number is also increasing.

“I am a part of at least four such groups. That means I am connected to about 1,000 other people and can get information about drunk and drive checking spots,” said another member.

The groups comprise people of all ages and backgrounds — from young partying individuals to students, middle-aged people, socialites and small-time actors.

“We are aware of the presence of such groups and it is not practically possible to control them. But we are making sure there is no easy escape. Hence, instead of one or two check-points in a single area, there are multiple. A person can escape one point, but will definitely get caught in the next one. We plan to become stringent over time,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Anil Kumar told News18.

There are also cases where drivers are available on rent to help a drunk person cross a particular check point, beyond which the vehicle will be handed over to the owner.

There has been an exponential rise in the number of drunken driving cases. A total of 15,133 drunk drivers were caught by the Hyderabad traffic police till June this year. Kumar said the number has been high in the second quarter. In April, traffic police personnel caught 2,215 drunk drivers and the number shot to 2,770 in June.

According to the Motor Vehicle Act 1988, a person can be punished if over 30 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is detected in the Breath Alcohol Content test. But in Hyderabad, it has been raised to 35 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood considering minor errors in breath-analysers.