Govt clears 5-fold hike in traffic offence fines

New Delhi: In a bid to tighten the noose around habitual traffic offenders, the government today approved five-fold increase in fines under the Motor Vehicle Act, and substantial hike in compensation to accident victims.

Under one of the proposed amendments, the government has cleared four-fold increase in compensation to Rs 1 Lakh in fatal accidents, and Rs 50,000 for grievous hurts in hit and run cases.

These changes will be incorporated in the Motor Vehicle Act through an amendment, which is likely to be introduced in forthcoming Parliament session.

"The Union Cabinet has approved the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act for harsher punishments for offences like drunken driving and violation of traffic rules and also increased compensation in accident cases," an official said. He said the amendments are proposed mainly to deal with offenders who violate traffic rules repeatedly.

In case of drunken driving, the fine will range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 and imprisonment from six months to four years.

Giving details of the proposed fine on drunken driving, the official said in cases where alcohol level is 30 mg per 100 ml of blood, it would not amount to an offence. However, if it is between 30-60 mg per 100 ml of blood, the proposed penalty would be six months of imprisonment and/or Rs 2,000 fine.

In case the alcohol level is 60-150 mg per 100 ml of blood, the penalty would be one year imprisonment and/or Rs 4,000. If the offence is repeated within three years, the penalty would go up to three years imprisonment and/or Rs 8,000.

For those who are found heavily drunk with alcohol levels of over 150 mg per 100 ml of blood, the penalty will be two years imprisonment and or Rs 5,000. Repeat offence within three year will attract a penalty of four years and fine of Rs 10,000 besides cancellation of licence.

In case a person is found driving under the influence of narcotic substances, he could be liable for six months imprisonment and/or fine of up to Rs 5,000. For repeat offences, the fine could go up to Rs 10,000 along with six month imprisonment and cancellation of licence.

Although the government has approved hike in the quantum of fine for repeat offences for those found driving under the influence of narcotic substances, the punishment has been reduced from existing two year to six months.

The fine for jumping the red light, is also proposed to be increased from Rs 100 to Rs 100-500 for first offence and from Rs 300 to Rs 300-1,500.

For over-speeding, it has been proposed to increased the fine from Rs 400 to Rs 400-1,000 for first offence, and from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000-5,000 for the second.

For dangerous driving, the fine has been raised to Rs 2,000-5,000 and or imprisonment of 2 years in case of second offence. However there is no change in the penalty for the first offence which is six months imprisonment and or fine of Rs 1,000.

Besides increasing the fine for using mobile phones while driving to Rs 500 for first offence and Rs 2,000-5,000 for subsequent instances, it also proposed to provide clear definition of such instruments.

"Mobile phone is any application which can receive and transmit voice, text and picture…," as per the proposal. It means that not only talking on phone but sending text messages and using hands free instruments for using mobile phone would be considered an offence.

Noting that there are 1.4 million pending cases relating to third party insurance claims at different tribunals and courts, it has also been proposed to rationalise the formula for tabulating compensation for road accident victims under third party insurance.

The amendments also proposes to provide more powers to states to limit and regulate contract carriage on city routes with prior permission of the Centre.

The amendment also proposed delegating more powers to states for issuing driving licences, registration cards, fitness certificates, grant of permits and disposal of appeals. It is also proposed to fix a time line for issuing of licenses, registration cards, permits and fitness certificates.