Lack of breathalyser tests on the road because of the scare of infection among police has made many Kolkatans feel immune to police action while driving after a few drinks, conversations with many ordinary citizens and police suggested.
Four friends drove from a Tollygunge apartment in south Kolkata to Dum Dum in northeast Kolkata after a drinking session on Friday night. Two of them came back in the same car.
They were not stopped anywhere. The round trip took around 90 minutes, said one of them. Two of the participants, a couple, could not find an app cab. That is when another friend volunteered to drive them home. “He had a couple of drinks and insisted he was fit to drive. I joined them,” said the host of the session, who lives near Tollygunge Metro station.
A New Alipore resident had a few drinks in a hotel off EM Bypass on Saturday, left around 11.45pm and drove home in about an hour. He was not stopped anywhere in between, he told The Telegraph.
Several police officers performing duty on the roads said the scaling down of the breathalyser tests has again encouraged many to drive home after a drink.
That practice had changed in the past few years and many preferred a taxi or a chauffer-driven car for a ride home.
Increasing Covid cases in the police force has prompted suspension of the breathalyser tests in the city since January 7. Although the tests have been resumed now, a limited number of police personnel — only those who have completed three doses of vaccine — are being engaged for conducting the test.
“...As a large number of police personnel were infected by Covid recently it will take them another three months to get their precaution dose. This is a practical problem we are facing from which many citizens are taking advantage,” said a senior police officer.
A cop posted in a traffic guard in south Kolkata said he has come across multiple cases where four wheelers carrying families were found to be driven by the car owner in an inebriated state.
“One of them said he was not expecting to be stopped at all as there was no checking on that point the previous night,” the officer said.
Kolkata police have prosecuted 183 motorists in the past five days for drink driving.