Police can lawfully arrest drivers for breath test, says Bombay High Court

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The Bombay High Court ruled that drink driving tests conducted by on-duty traffic police on drivers is important and adequate as per existing laws. The court also made it clear that despite not being a cognizable offence, cops on duty have the legal right to stop a vehicle of they suspect that its driver is under the influence of alcohol.

Police can lawfully arrest drivers for breath test, says Bombay High Court. The judgment was delivered by a division bench comprising of justice GS Patel and justice SC Dharmadhikari while hearing a plea by one Rani Doshi who was arrested by the police in 2011 for drunk-driving.

Apparently, as per available records, Doshi – a Juhu resident, was driving in the vicinity of the Phoenix Mills on April 27, 2011. The traffic police, however, stopped her car mid away to conduct a breath test. Later, it was established that Doshi had consumed more than 30ml alcohol. She was taken to the NM Joshi Marg Police Station where she was asked to pay INR 2000 as fine in addition to signing a bond whereby she would be legally bound to appear in the metropolitan court on the next date of hearing.

She later appealed to the Bombay High Court pleading not guilty.

“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 bench noted during the course of the trial, DNA India reports.

The division bench also upheld the power of the traffic police under which, it they are allowed to make an arrest under section 185 of the Motor Vehicle 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 court stated.

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