Hyderabad cracks down on drunk driving: Soon pub goers must have designated drivers

The police have also intensified inspections in pubs and strictly warned them against serving alcohol to minors.
Hyderabad cracks down on drunk driving: Soon pub goers must have designated drivers
Hyderabad cracks down on drunk driving: Soon pub goers must have designated drivers
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The Hyderabad police is moving beyond simply fining and prosecuting drivers to prevent drunk driving in the city. In the wake of rampant problems with drunk driving, the police are set to implement a designated driver policy at the city’s many pubs.

In this new initiative, called “Designate a driver”, in each of group tipplers visiting a pub, one person would be chosen to drive all others home at the end of the evening. This person will then be given a wrist band that identifies them as the driver, and no alcohol would be served to him or her. At the end of the night, only the person with the band will be allowed to drive the vehicle.

Talking to The News Minute, Deputy Commissioner Ranganath said, “This concept is already being followed by western countries. We requested the pub owners to implement this strictly and they welcomed this idea but also expressed some issues to bring this into practice. We are looking into those problems as well.”

He added that in cases where a single person on a two-wheeler enters the bar, “that person will be asked to drop his two-wheeler in the premises and take a cab service, which most of the city pubs are providing.”

City police and excise officials have also intensified inspections in various pubs in the city and issued strict orders to owners of pubs not to provide alcohol to minors. This comes in the wake of nine-year-old Ramya being killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver in Hyderabad on July 1.

Pub owners in the city are also eager to cooperate with the police to eliminate such incidents. One pub owner, who did not wish to be named, told TNM, “We are holding meetings with police personnel since the last week and are ready to support them in any way to bring down drunk driving cases.”

However, not everybody is on-board with the idea as yet. Many object that there are various practical, logistical difficulties. D Venkateshwar Rao, the president of the Telangana State Wine Dealers Association, was quoted by The Times of India as saying, “In principle we want to ensure the safe return of customers consuming liquor. But the concept which police want to implement has practical difficulties. It is possible that we issue a tag to a designated person and don't serve them liquor, but what if the tagged person clandestinely consumes it or he gets rid of the tag and asks for a drink.”

Pub-goers point out that even if the initiative is strictly implemented in pubs, it still does not cover the possibility of people consuming alcohol in homes and private venues and then driving.

“‘Designate a driver’ is a good idea, and I hope its implementation shows some positive results. But what about house parties? Pubs close after midnight and most youngsters who still want to drink will end up at a friend’s place and continue to drink. In such situations, the tags or wrist bands will not work,” said Gladstone a regular pub-goer.

He also feels that  for  the designated driver initiative to work, a strong police presence outside pubs is necessary. “I feel at least one constable be installed at each pub in the city to check for the tags at the exit gate. This will create some fear among drivers,” he added. 

Though the designated driver concept is being applied for one of the first times in India, other countries like Australia, Canada and South Korea have taken the idea many steps forward. In some countries, designated driver services are also available, where where one can book a driver to drive one vehicle’s home after an evening at the pub.

The Hyderabad police admits that there will be teething issues, but says it will periodically evaluate the initiative to improve its functioning as it goes forward. 

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