Coronavirus: Thane cops suspends use of breathalysers

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Mumbai, Thane: While there are currently no confirmed coronavirus cases anywhere in Maharashtra, the Thane police has temporarily suspended the use of breathalysers, as a pre-emptive measure to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, drunk drivers will not get away scot-free, as motorists who are suspected to be driving under the influence of alcohol will be subjected to blood tests to check alcohol consumption levels.

“Amid concerns about coronavirus, we have suspended the use of breathalysers. Instead, we will take the suspects to nearby government hospitals, where they will undergo blood tests to ascertain their blood-alcohol levels,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amit Kale.

“While we have suspended the use of breathalysers, this doesn’t mean that there will be fewer offenders. Rather, more offenders will be caught. If found driving under the influence of alcohol, the offenders will be jailed and their licence will be cancelled for six months. They will also have to pay a fine,” he cautioned.

According to the Thane police, the drives against inebriated driving will continue during Holi, when a spike in such cases is usually reported.

According to the Thane police, the breathalysers they use are risky as they are put inside the driver’s mouth, and changing the rubber head of the breathalyser each time is not feasible owing to constant shortage of stock.

The Mumbai Police’s traffic department uses advanced breathalysers, which require the driver to blow into a tube from a short distance without actual physical contact with the mouth. However, since the driver is still required to blow at the device from a very short distance, there are similar concerns over the use of such breathalysers too.

As reported by The Free Press Journal a day earlier, the Mumbai Traffic Police is reviewing whether or not the use of breathalysers for checks on drink driving should be temporarily suspended owing to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

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