Covid fear: Traffic cops won’t use breathalysers on New Year’s eve

MUMBAI TRAFFIC police’s annual New Year’s eve drive to catch motorists driving in an inebriated state will not see breathalysers being used this year due to the pandemic. Officials said that instead of the usual separate drive to catch those indulging in drunken revelry and riding vehicles on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1, checkpoints and bandobast for night curfew will be carried out.

Traffic authorities said that due to the pandemic the special drives were stopped — especially the use of breathalysers owing to fear of contamination — for the last few months and a decision was taken to not conduct those even during New Year’s eve when the maximum number of such cases are seen.

“There is a fear that we may catch the infection, so the drives were stopped soon after the lockdown was announced,” said a senior police officer, adding, “But for the New Year’s eve, we assume that as curfew is in place, people will not step out after 11 pm and usually people start drinking after that so we believe that this year they will remain home”.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Somnath Gharge said, “There will be special police blockades on New Year’s eve. We will not be using breath analysers as such to check whether the driver is drunk, but the stationed policemen will stop the vehicles and check them. If they suspect that the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol, he will take them to the hospital and his blood samples shall be taken for a medical check-up.”

Necessary action will be taken accordingly, said an official.

Last year, the police had booked 778 motorists charging them for driving in an inebriated state, majority of them on two-wheelers. As many as 40,000 police personnel were deployed to monitor celebrations with nearly 2,705 traffic police personnel manning nakabandis on major roads.

For the first time last year, the police had also used over 100 body cameras as well as the use of the CCTV network was done to fine violations. “We will be relying on CCTVs too to catch violators for offences like speeding, rash driving,” the official added.