Cops can arrest driver to conduct breath test: Bombay High Court

Monday, 2 December 2013 - 9:13am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The Bombay High Court has stated that the drink-driving tests conducted by the traffic police on drivers are proper and correct as per the law. The HC also stated that though the offence is not cognizable, policemen have the right to stop a vehicle if they suspect the driver to be under the influence of alcohol.

A division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and GS Patel rejected the plea of one Rani Doshi who was arrested for drink driving in 2011, observing that “the plea that subjecting oneself to the test (breath analyser) itself is deprivation of life and liberty can’t be accepted. Breath test and laboratory test are both provided to obtain a proof of a person being in such a state as could be termed as unfit to drive a motor vehicle.”

The court also upheld the power of the traffic police to arrest a person under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act. “The power to arrest without warrant in case of the offence punishable under Section 185 is only to enable a police officer to subject a person to the test specified in Sections 203 and 204 of the MV Act,” the HC said.

Doshi, a resident of Juhu, was driving near Phoenix Mills on April 27, 2011. The traffic police stopped her car and made her take a breathalyser test. It was found that she had consumed more than 30ml of alcohol. She was then taken to the NM Joshi Marg police station, where she had to pay Rs2,000 and sign a bond to appear in the metropolitan court the next date.

Doshi attended the special magistrate’s court in Bhoiwada, where she pleaded not guilty. The court transferred the case to the regular court, where the trial is still pending.

Doshi through her advocate H K Prem had challenged the entire charge leveled against her under Section 185 of the MV Act. The petition stated that if the offence is not a cognisable one,  then no first information report was registered in the case. Further, there is no other proof other than the breathalyser report and the officer’s word that she was drunk at the time of the incident. This, according to her, is not sufficient and thus the case against her should be quashed.

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