Time for Stiffer Fines: LS Passes Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill

Hefty fines for jumping red light, drinking driving will soon hit drivers in India. 

The Lok Sabha passed the Motor Vehicles Act Amendment Bill on 10 April, which provides for some pretty steep penalties, and stricter action for traffic violations. If you have been driving recklessly, it’s time to clean up your act.

This bill now goes to the Rajya Sabha for its nod, and then the President of India has to sign off on it for the ageing Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, to be amended with the new penalties aimed at bringing down the number of road accidents in India.

While there are many little additions to the Motor Vehicles Act, here is a round-up of some of the penalties that could really pinch.

General Traffic Offences

For instance, Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, deals with general traffic offences, such as not using a seat belt or jumping a traffic signal.

Violating this section for the first time attracts a maximum fine of Rs 100, and Rs 300 for the second time. Under the new amendment, this would go up to Rs 2,500 and Rs 5,000 respectively.

Speeding Fines

For speeding, until now, the maximum penalty for the first offence was Rs 400, and Rs 1000 for the second offence. The new law under Section 183 gets much stricter. For the first offence, if your speed is more than 5 kmph above speed limit, but within 9 kmph, you will be fined Rs 1,000.

If your speed is more than 9 kmph above the speed limit, but within 19 kmph of the speed limit, you will have to cough up Rs 1,500. And if it’s beyond that, then the fine is Rs 2,000 and your vehicle could be impounded for a month, or driving licence suspended for a month.

For the second offence, the fine could go up to Rs 3,000 for two-wheelers, or Rs 5,000 for cars and trucks, and could include impounding of the vehicle for three months, as well as suspension of driving licence for three months, plus a call for refresher training. In addition, the act recommends that names of all offenders be published in the newspaper too.

Dangerous Driving

Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act deals with driving dangerously. The definition includes dangerous lane changes or risky overtaking. Earlier, the fine for this was up to Rs 1,000, and could include imprisonment up to six months for the first offence.

For the second offence, the fine was up to Rs 2,000 or imprisonment up to two years. The prison term, however, has been relaxed in the amended act. Now, for the first offence, you could be fined Rs 2,500, or imprisoned for three days or do community service for 15 hours.

For subsequent offences, you could be fined Rs 5,000, imprisoned for up to a week, or do 30 hours of community service.

Drunken Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol is covered under Section 185 of the act. The permissible limit of alcohol per 100 ml of blood was earlier 30mg. It has now been revised to 20mg per 100 ml (which means anything over a pint of light beer could make you fail a breathalyser test).

The punishment for this was a fine up to Rs 3,000, and a prison term that could go from six months to two years. Now, the fine is Rs 5,000 for the first offence, with 50 hours of community service, and could include licence suspension for six months.

For a subsequent offence within three years, the fine is Rs 10,000 and licence suspension for a year. For heavy vehicle drivers, this is Rs 20,000 with a possible one-month to six-month prison term, and licence suspension for a year.

Tampering with the Vehicle

Another section that vehicle modifiers may want to pay heed to is Section 198. This specifically deals with emission control devices that have been fitted to the vehicle by the manufacturer.

Tampering with this (fitting modified exhausts for example) earlier invited a fine of Rs 100. Now, it is really stringent with a fine of Rs 5,000 for the first offence, with a possible three-month prison sentence. For the second offence, you could end up paying a fine of Rs 10,000, along with a three-month prison sentence.

Besides these amendments, the new bill also has guidelines for taxi aggregators (such as Uber and Ola), which brings about a more uniform law instead of state-wise policies. It also provides for a cap on third party insurance liability up to Rs 10 lakh in case of death compared to the unlimited liability in place till now.

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