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Drunken Driving and Motor Insurance in India

Team AckoJul 22, 2021

Drunken driving is dangerous and can have a lifelong effect on one's life. You may injure or at worst kill someone on the road or cause significant damage to someone's property. Drunken driving and Motor Insurance also do not work in each other’s favour. You will suffer a major financial loss if you end up in a similar situation. Let us tell you more about Drunken Driving and its effect on Motor Insurance.

Drunk Driving and Motor Insurance in India

Drunk Driving and Car Insurance

Effects of Consuming an Intoxicating Substance

Consuming alcohol or other intoxicating substances can have both short and long-term effects on one’s health. Here is a list of what may happen when you get intoxicated.

Short-term Effects

  • Loss of fine motor coordination

  • Blurred vision

  • Loose muscle tone

  • Slow response to external stimulation

  • Slower reaction time

  • Lower blood pressure leading to dizziness

  • Increased confidence

  • Decreased reflex responses

  • Reduced ability to make decisions 

  • Increased confusion

  • Injury due to loss of coordination

Long-term Effects

  • Nervous system damage

  • Circulatory problems

  • Liver disease

  • Cancer

What is Drunk Driving?

Driving a vehicle needs focus and alertness to reach the destination safely. When a person drinks alcohol or consumes an intoxicating substance, the above-mentioned short-term effects kick in. These result in decreased alertness and focus on the driver. 

Driving a vehicle after consuming more than the allowed limits of alcohol or an intoxicating substance can be termed as drunk driving or driving in an inebriated state.

Impact of Drunk Driving On Motor Insurance

Drunken driving is a major exclusion of Motor Insurance. Exclusions are situations in which you cannot raise a bike/car insurance claim. This leads to high financial concerns as the insurance company is NOT liable to pay for damage when you are driving in an inebriated state. You have to pay the entire cost of an accident from your pocket. 

Example 

Mr. A was partying with friends until 2 am and was drunk beyond the legal limits. Since alcohol can impair your logical thinking, Mr. A thought it was best to ride his bike home. There were fewer people on the road at night, so Mr. A rode the bike at high speeds. He felt dizzy, zoomed off the road, and hit a tree. He jumped off the bike in time before the collision. But the bike was highly damaged. 

Police arrived on the spot and found out that Mr. A was drunk. This was mentioned in the FIR of the situation. The insurance company rejected the claim and Mr A had to pay for bike repairs by himself apart from paying the fine.

Will the Insurance be Cancelled After Drunk Driving?

A vehicle insurance claim against damage from drunk driving may not result in the cancellation of the policy. Provided it is a one-time claim for the policyholder. However, the insurer can cancel the insurance policy for those who have a history of alcohol abuse and similar claims.

The effects of alcohol are unpredictable for each person and taking a chance at driving in such a state is dangerous.  

Drunk Driving Insurance Claim Guidelines

Drinking and driving is an offence and the claim will be rejected if the vehicle is damaged because the driver is drunk. The allowed Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) can be up to 0.03% per 100 ml of blood, i.e. 30mg/100ml. You might be allowed to raise a car insurance claim if you can prove that BAC at the time of an accident was less than 30mg/100ml of blood. However, this is subjective and depends on what actually happened during the accident.

Example

A cab driver got into an accident and suffered minor injuries. The car was also damaged. He filed a claim that was initially rejected by the insurance company. However, later it was proved that his BAC levels were within the permissible limits and thus, his claim was approved.

Hazards of Drunken Driving

Drunken driving is not only about vehicle insurance or claims. It can pose a serious threat to your life and the lives of others around you. It can leave you with a permanent disability. This not only affects you, but your family members as well.

Example 1

A car with a family of three was going at a normal speed and a drunk truck driver hit them. The first hit caused the car to topple. They were recovering from the sudden shock when they received the fatal hit. The driver, being drunk, thought he was driving over a speed breaker. The family was killed on the spot.

Example 2 

A young woman was driving a car at high speed after drinking at an office party. She lost control of the car, hit the divider, went to the opposite side and was hit by a heavy vehicle. She suffered serious injuries and her driving licence was confiscated for six months.

Law Against Drunk Driving

Drunken driving is a criminal offence in India and you can face serious consequences. The law is stated under Section 185 of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Following are the punishments for drunk driving in India.

  • First-time offenders are charged with up to Rs 10,000 and/or six months imprisonment.

  • Imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of Rs 15,000 is applicable for a repeated offence within three years of the first incident.

The law is not limited to drinking alcohol. Consuming drugs can attract similar punishments along with possession/consumption offences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about drunk driving and motor insurance. You can get in touch with ACKO to know more about the topic by sending an email at [email protected]

FAQs

Will the insurance company pay third-party liabilities if my claim for drunk driving is rejected?

This depends upon the insurance company and the Claim Tribunal that settles the claim. Depending on the situation, even if the insurance company pay the third party, it is not liable to pay the repair cost of your vehicle.

Should I be worried if I am asked to use the breathalyzer?

You should not worry about taking the test if you are following the law and act as a responsible driver. 

What does a breathalyzer do?

The breathalyzer is used to determine your BAC. A person simply blows in the small pipe-like attachment connected to the device and it will display a number indicating the alcohol level in your blood. It is commonly used by the  traffic cops. The level should be under 30mg/100ml of blood.

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