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Explainer: Here is what Motor Vehicle Drivers/Owners should know about new penalties in the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act

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The Motor Vehicles Amendment act was finally passed recently. One of the key features of the act is the hefty penalties for most of the offences. Here is a roundup of all the penalties.

Every year in India, around 1,50,000 lives are lost in road accidents alone according to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Annually, almost 5,00,000 road accidents take place in the country. Despite there being stringent rules and regulations, there are innumerable cases of traffic rule violations everyday across India.

The current NDA Government passed the new Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019 in both the houses during the monsoon session. Through this amendment,  the existing rules are made stricter compared to the 30 year old MV act 1988. Penalties & fines for various violations have also been increased substantially in order to reduce the number of violations. Standards for vehicles, grants, permits and licenses related to motor vehicles have also been covered under this amendment. This story aims to cover the important offences and penalties every person who drives or owns a vehicle should know within India as per the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Violations for which penalty has not been mentioned

  • For any action for the first time that violates the act for which the penalty has not been otherwise mentioned, the fine has been increased to 500. The fine for subsequent offence will be 1500.

Public Transport/State/Contract Carriage

  • The fine imposed on those travelling without the right ticket or not producing the valid ticket/pass during inspection in public transport is 500.
  • The driver or conductor of the public transport who refuses to give valid ticket can be punished and be liable to pay a fine up to 500.
  • Those drivers/conductors of a contract carriage who fail to fulfil their duty to carry passengers are liable to pay a fine up to ₹ 50 in case of two/three wheelers and up to 500 for others.
  • Those who disobey any order of concerned authorities is liable to pay 2000 and if anyone refuses to provide information or provides false information to the authorities is liable to pay a fine up to 2000 and/or imprisonment up to one month.

Unauthorized Driving & Driving License

  • Permitting an unauthorised person to drive is an offence and the person in charge/ owner of the vehicle will have to pay a fine up to 5000 or/and face imprisonment up to 3 months.
  • Driving without holding a driver’s license will end up in imprisonment up to 3 months and/or fine up to 5000.
  • He/she who has been disqualified for holding or obtaining a driver’s license and yet, is found to be driving in public places will be treated as an offender and is legally bound to pay a fine up to 10,000 and/or face imprisonment up to 3 months. The license then obtained will also not have any effect.
  • Those who do not possess a valid conductor license but works as conductor in public transport/stage carriage, will have to face imprisonment extending up to one month and/or pay fine of 10,000. His/ Her license will also remain ineffective.

Modification of a Motor Vehicle

  • Modification of one’s motor vehicle that doesn’t comply with the rules set by the government under this act is an offence and the offender will be liable to imprisonment of up to 6 months and/or fine of 5000 per alteration.

Violating Speed Limits

  • In order to control traffic, the government has maximum and minimum speed limits which are determined by the Central Government and the relevant State governments. Not complying with these speed limits will result in the driver/ employer of the driver, whoever is responsible for the speed to pay a fine as follows
    • For light motor vehicle- ₹ 1000 to 2000
    • Medium goods vehicle/medium passenger vehicle/ heavy goods vehicle/ heavy passenger vehicle-  ₹ 2000 to 4000
    • If found guilty for the second time or subsequently, the police officer or the authorised personal can confiscate the driver’s license and forward it to the concerned officials for disqualification/revocation.

Drunken Driving

  • If the driver of a motor vehicle is found to have consumed alcohol and has alcohol more than 30mg per 100ml in his/her blood sample or has consumed drugs (any intoxicant which falls under the list as per the Central Government notification) is legally bound to pay a fine of   10,000 and/or face imprisonment up to six months for the first offence. If found guilty again, the punishment will be up to 2 years imprisonment and/or fine of   15,000.

Dangerous Driving – Jumping Red light, Wrong Direction driving, using mobile phones etc.

  • If someone drives the vehicle in a dangerous manner which causes alarm/distress to those in the vehicle, other road users and those near the roads, the public, depending on the nature, condition and the kind of place is liable to be imprisoned for a term of 6 months to one year  and/or fine varying from 10,000 to 50,000. Examples of dangerous manner include jumping red lights, not following stop sign, overtaking in wrong direction, using mobile phones, driving in wrong direction, etc.
  • If the driver is mentally or physically unfit to drive, the fine imposed will be between ₹ 500 to 2000.

Accidents & Penalty for not stopping a Vehicle

  • It is the driver’s duty to stop the vehicle when asked to do so by an authorized police officer or by someone in charge of an animal. In case of an accident, he is also responsible for any damage inflicted upon third party or third party’s property due to his driving. He/she has to take the injured person to the nearest hospital and report the same to the police. Failing to do so will result in an imprisonment which can extend up to six months and/or 5000 fine. Repeating this offence will result in one year imprisonment and/or 10,000 fine. This is in addition to the other criminal liabilities.

Vehicle in Unsafe condition

  • Driving or knowingly allowing someone else to drive a vehicle which is in an unsafe condition and has a defect which can be detected beforehand and avoided is a legal offence with 1500 fine. If this results in damage to property or person, then the punishment may extend to imprisonment up to three months and/or a fine of 5000. Subsequent offence will result in imprisonment that can extend to six months or with a fine of 10,000 for bodily injury or damage to property.

Air & Noise Pollution

  • Violation of road safety rules, air and noise pollution is punishable with imprisonment of up to three months and/or fine up to 10,000 and license disqualification for three months. Subsequent offence will result in imprisonment up to six months and/or fine up to 10,000.

Vehicle without Registration & Insurance

  • Driving vehicle without registration is a severe offence that will result in imprisonment of six months and a penalty of 10,000 fine.
  • If a person is driving a vehicle that is not insured, he/she is liable to pay a fine up to 2000 and/or imprisonment up to 3 months. On repetition of this offence, the fine will go up to 4000.

Driving without Helmet

  • Penalty for driving a two wheeler without helmet is 1000 and up to three months suspension of license. Same is the amount for not wearing seat belts while driving four wheelers.

Offence committed by a Juvenile

  • If any of the offence is committed by a juvenile, the guardian of the juvenile or the owner of the motor vehicle will be held guilty and action will be taken against him/her unless and until he/she is unaware of the offence or tried to stop it. The punishment will be fine of 25,000 and imprisonment up to 3 years in addition to the cancellation of vehicle registration for one year. If the juvenile holds a learner’s license, he/she will not be eligible for driving license until he/she attains 25 years of age. Further, action as per Juvenile Justice act will also be initiated.

Obstructing the Traffic by leaving Vehicle unattended

  • For those who obstruct the traffic on the road by leaving their vehicle, an hourly fine of 500 has to be paid. When the vehicle is removed, he/ she also has to bear the expenses of moving/towing of the vehicle by a government authorised agency This is not applicable for a vehicle that has been involved in an accident until the inspection is complete.

Power to arrest for certain offences

  • Police officers in uniform have the power to arrest without warrant, those who commit punishable offences like drunken driving, dangerous driving and driving without authority. The person under arrest has to be subject to medical examination within two hours of custody. The presence of a female official is mandatory during medical examination if the person under custody is female. 
  • If the police officer seizes anybody’s driving license, he/she must provide a temporary acknowledgement. This acknowledgement shall not authorise the holder to drive unless he/she receives their driving license.
  • No one who is prosecuted for driving dangerously and over speeding shall be convicted unless he/she was given a warning at the time of committing the offence. Also, within two weeks of committing the offence, a registered post has to be sent to the offender or the registered owner of the vehicle about the offence and time and location at which it took place.

Provisions for ‘Good Samaritans’ now part of the act

The act has also been praised for encouraging ‘Good Samaritans’– people who extend help to accident victims- by protecting them from any civil or criminal action and giving them a choice whether or not to reveal their identity.

States can increase these penalties

The objective of these amendments is to bring down the number of road accidents and loss of lives that take place as a result of it. The increasing number of vehicles and hence, the vehicle density on roads only increase possibilities of accidents. In 2017, there have been reports of India having topped the list of countries in fatalities due to road accidents. In order to curb this, the penalties to be paid for various offences have been increased 5 to 10 times compared to the existing provisions as per the 1988 act. In addition, the State Governments have been authorized to increase the prescribed penalties with a multiplier, not less than one and not greater than ten, to be applied to each fine. Different multipliers may be applied to different classes of motor vehicles.

The prime criticism of these amendments, by the opposition, was that the Central Government was usurping powers of the State Governments.

Featured Image: Motor Vehicles Amendment Act

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