Driving errors are now an expensive affair. In the area of road safety, the Bill proposes to drastically change the 30-year-old law and make motorists more responsible, increasing penalties to act as a deterrent against traffic violations and improving road safety in the country.
By: Pallavi Kumari, 2nd Year, LLB Symbiosis Law School, Pune.
The Motor Vehicles Act was approved in 1988 and almost all aspects of road transportation and vehicles were regulated. It holds detailed provisions and guidelines on licensing of the drivers and conductors, registration of motor vehicles, the provision on regulating their licenses, traffic regulations, insurances related, liabilities, and penalties.
The motor vehicle act made it mandatory for all drivers to own a valid driving license and no vehicle will be driven without being registered under the motor vehicles act.
The Motor Vehicle Act, 2019
Last year, modifications to the Motor Vehicle Act were passed by the Parliament. And most of them came into effect from September 1, 2019. The central government has amended the Motor Vehicle 1988 by the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 intending to enforce stricter penalties for the road traffic violations and to prevent the menace of road accidents. Now the penalties have been increased tenfold on violation of various rules.
New changes under the Motor Vehicle Act, 2019
A recent study confirms that around 5 lakhs accidents take place annually out of which 1.3 lakh people die and 3.5 lakh people are crippled. Also, Uttar Pradesh registers the extreme spike in fatalities. The new Traffic Rules in India are set as per the New Motor Vehicle Act 2019. Under the revised act, the road traffic and safety rules have turned more stringent than ever and the penalties for traffic violations have been increased significantly.
Driving Without License: The fine, if you are caught without a license has now increased from Rs.500 to Rs. 5000. The fine has increased ten times from the earlier fine.
Driving Without Insurance: In case one is found driving without the insurance of the motor vehicle, he will be fined Rs.2000 and/ or imprisonment of up to 3 months. And if the person offends the rule for the second time, he will be fined Rs.4000 and/ or imprisonment up to 3 months. Before the amendment, the fine was Rs.1000 and /or imprisonment for up to 3 months.
Driving With Disqualified Driving License: As per the new rules, if one is found driving with a disqualified license, he or she can be fined for Rs 10,000. Earlier the fine was just Rs 500.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Intoxicating Substance: Today, one of the biggest concerns is driving under the influence of alcohol or drunk driving. As per the new amendment, the penalty has now increased from Rs.2000 to Rs.10000 and /or imprisonment of 6 months. Also, the second time offenders will have to pay a fine of Rs. 15000 and can face imprisonment for up to 2 years as it poses a greater risk to the safety of not only the driver but also the other person on road. Hence, the penalty that the offender has to pay has been severely increased.
Not Wearing a Helmet: For riding a two-wheeler without wearing an ISI-approved helmet, he/she will be fined Rs.1000. Earlier the fine was Rs.100.
Driving without a seat belt: Earlier, the fine was Rs.100 but it has now increased to Rs.1000 if a person is found driving without putting on the seat belt.
Racing and Speed-testing: Another exceedingly serious offense that is often seen being committed on our roads is that of racing and speed-testing. For this, the fine for the first time offenders has been now increased to Rs.5000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 months from earlier which was Rs.500. And Rs.10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 1 year for offenders repeating.
Offenses by Juveniles: Same as before, there is no punishment to the juvenile for this but the owner of the vehicle or the guardian of the underage driver will now have to pay a fine of Rs.25,000 along with an imprisonment of 3 years. Also, the registration of the vehicle can be suspended for one year. And after one year, the owner will have to apply for re-registration.
Also, the minor driver will no more be eligible to obtain a learner’s license until the age of 25.
Also, there will be an annual increase in the fines by up to 10 percent
Offenses Committed by Enforcing Officers: As per the Motor Vehicle Act 2019, there is no fixed penalty for this offense but the new fine is double the penalty under the relevant section.
Having Two Driving Licences: A person will be penalized if he is found having two or more driving licenses.
Also, after the amendment, all the new driving licenses that are to be issued will have a smart chip that can be scanned by the traffic police through a QR code.
Renewal of Driving Licence: As per the Motor Vehicle Act 2019, an eligible person can apply for renewal of his driving license anytime between one year from the date of expiry to one year after expiry. For instance, if a license is getting expired on 28 November 2020, then a renewal application can be applied from 28 November 2019 to 28 November 2020.
Nevertheless, if the renewal application is applied after one year of the expiry of the license, then the person will be required to undertake the driving license test once again.
Change in residence address: The facility to change the address in his or her driving license online and further applying for this to any RTO office in the state will be provided under the new Motor Vehicle Act, 2019.
General offense and violation of road regulations: The penalty was earlier Rs.100 and now increased to Rs.500 for both general offenses and road regulation violation.
Cashless Treatment during Golden Hour: The Bill provides for a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during the golden hour.
Now not following the traffic and road safety rules as per the Act will burn a hole in the pocket of offenders. Besides the higher penalty, imprisonment for severe crimes is also included. The act has also focused on improving the delivery of services to the stakeholders using e-Governance, simplified registration process, reforms in the transportation process, and many more provisions. Slowly, as now all States have implemented the provisions of the Act with substantial fines and imprisonment, people may start to follow rules and road accidents may reduce. Unfortunately, the focus is only on the steep rise in fines for a traffic violation.