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Drive for drink test and drivers at nightspots

Calcutta police have asked several popular nightclubs and bars in Calcutta to use breathalysers on patrons who drink and engage a pool of spare drivers to drop the guests home if their blood alcohol levels are found to exceed the permissible limit.

Our Bureau   |   Calcutta   |   Published 07.05.17, 12:00 AM

Calcutta, May 6: Calcutta police have asked several popular nightclubs and bars in Calcutta to use breathalysers on patrons who drink and engage a pool of spare drivers to drop the guests home if their blood alcohol levels are found to exceed the permissible limit.

The establishments have been told that applications to extend bar hours past midnight would be turned down in case of non-compliance with the new norms set by Lalbazar, the city police headquarters.

The move comes a week after the late Friday night crash on Rashbehari Avenue that killed 28-year-old model-actor Sonika Singh Chauhan and left her friend, actor Vikram Chatterjee, injured. Chatterjee, who was at the wheel, has denied drink-driving.

Police officers led by additional commissioner-I Vineet Goyal met representatives from 30 nightclubs and bars this afternoon and presented them with a list of things they are expected to do.

"They have been given a fortnight to put the system in place and implement a structure that would not allow any drunken person to take the wheel. Else, we will not accept their requests to extend the time for serving liquor," an officer who had attended the meeting said.

Lalbazar has also directed the establishments to contact luxury cab operators to ensure the availability of cabs at night.

"If necessary, one can leave the car in the custody of the establishment, head home in a cab and collect the car the next morning," another officer said.

According to the guidelines, nightclub and bar authorities should make their customers undergo the breathalyser test before leaving their premises.

Some establishments said they were awaiting clarity on questions such as whether anyone other than the police can compel someone to take a breathalyser test if he or she refuses to do so.

It is also unclear how the establishments can identify the driver if a group orders drinks. The question that then comes up is whether everyone in the group needs to be tested and at which stage: while paying the bill or at the point of boarding the vehicle.

Once a guest fails the test, the establishment has to dissuade him or her from taking the wheel.

Several popular nightspots have already started on their own a driver service to take sloshed guests home. However, none of them has its own breathalysers yet.

M Bar Kitchen on Park Street is hiring more drivers. "We are getting more drivers from the agency from where we hire valet drivers.... A guest who does not feel confident driving home after drinking can check with the manager for the service. Our valet driver will drive his car, drop him home safely and come back on his own," said Varun Mimani of M Bar.

Mimani said M Bar would comply with the police directive but added: "As a move it is a good one but then as a club, we can only request the guests to take the test or use the service. Many guests would not want to take the test.... If they are inebriated, they start picking fights. We do not have legal authority to force them to take the test."

Asked, a police officer later said: "If anyone refuses to listen, the police would have to be called."

Whats In D Name on Camac Street and Nocturne on Shakespeare Sarani started similar car services a few months ago. "We tied up with Ola and have a kiosk at our venues. A person who is too drunk to drive or has run out of phone battery and is unable to book an app cab, can use the service," said Anshuman Singh of Nocturne and Whats In D Name.

After Sonika's death, Myx on Park Street has decided to have a Uber kiosk on the premises that will help a party-goer book a cab. "Such measures can be a success only if the guests cooperate," said Vicky Metharamani of Myx.

Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act states that a motorist is liable to be imprisoned for up to six months or fined Rs 2,000 if a breathalyser test detects alcohol exceeding 30mg per 100ml in his blood. Second and subsequent offences can lead to imprisonment for two years or a fine of Rs 3,000.

Yesterday, Calcutta police commissioner Rajeev Kumar had emphasised the need to curb drink-driving at a traffic review meeting. "He said it has to be stopped at any cost," said an officer.



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