In a first, City Traffic Police Lahore (CTPL) has decided to crackdown on drunk drivers with the use of breathalyzers. This device has been used for a long time in the western countries though its results and efficacy is still debatable.
In a tweet dated December 26, 2022, CTPL warned motorists to not drink and drive. Those who would, will be strictly dealt with under the law. Though not specified in the tweet, it is largely assumed by many that this tweet is meant to warn potential drunk drivers on New Year’s Eve.
This is indeed a commendable step, something which should have been done earlier and it is hoped will be emulated by police in other parts of the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 28 Americans die every day due to drunk driving car crashes. This is more than 100,000 people in a decade.
While drunk driving related statistics are not available in Pakistan, they are likely to be noticeable.
What Is A Breathalyzer Test?
In a breathalyzer test, a diagnostic device is used to measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The suspect is asked to blow into the device that results in a number which displays on the screen, which then helps the police to determine whether he/she is over the legal limit to drive.
Speed Guns and Breathalyzers
CTPL has deployed speed guns to identify over speeding drivers who will then be asked to take the breathalyzer test. If found to be drinking and driving, the driver could then be booked under The Provincial Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1965, which carries the maximum penalty of 6 months in jail or the fine of Rs.1,000 or both. For repeated offenses, the maximum penalty is of up to 2 years or a fine of Rs.1,000 or both.
This Lahore Traffic Police has for now adopted this approach on Jail, The Mall and Canal roads.
Notwithstanding the good intentions and initiatives of CTPL, a few unknowns must be answered by the authority for the fair application of the law across the board.
It Is Not Known…
A few unanswered questions which should be addressed by CTPL are:
- Duration of this policy – Will this be for an unspecified duration or will it come to stop on a specified date?
- Why only the three major road arteries of Lahore? Why not in the entire city?
- Does the suspected motorist have the right to deny taking the breathalyzer test? If yes, what would be the consequences for him/her?
- What is the legal BAC limit to drive? If there is no limit, would a person with any amount of alcohol in his/her blood could be arrested?
- Is the breathalyzer test always accurate? If not, would this not open floodgates of litigation?
- Police official(s) conducting this test would be fully trained to administer this test? Would he/she know that presence of alcohol in blood and intoxication depends on:
- Weight of the person
- Stomach contents
In short, two people of different weights, gender and stomach content with equal amounts of alcohol consumption can get intoxicated and impaired at different rates. Would CTPL officials be mindful of these facts?
7. It was reported in December 2020 that Karachi Traffic Police is acquiring 90 breathalyzers to discourage drunk driving in the city. What were the results of this initiative and what has CTPL learned from them?
Let us know what you make of this latest initiative by the Lahore Traffic Police.
A Very Happy, Blessed, Safe and Prosperous 2023 from OLX Pakistan!!!