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Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1988: An Overview of Road Safety and Regulations

Team AckoApr 30, 2024

The Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is a landmark legislation that governs the operation and management of motor vehicles in India. With the objective of ensuring road safety, efficient transportation, and the protection of the rights of road users, the Act provides a comprehensive framework for traffic regulations, vehicle standards, licencing, and penalties for violations. 

In this article, we will delve into the key provisions of the Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, highlighting its impact on road safety and the various aspects of the law that contribute to maintaining order on Indian roads.




What is the Motor Vehicles Act?

The Motor Vehicles Act encompasses all regulations pertaining to road transport vehicles as established by the Parliament of India. It covers various provisions related to the Driving Licence (DL), vehicle registration, traffic regulations, traffic violations, penalties, motor insurance, liabilities, and more.

The Indian Motor Vehicles Act was initially enacted in 1988. However, the Indian government introduced the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill in 2017 after consulting with state transport ministers. This bill was successfully passed in July 2019 and became effective on September 1, 2019.

Features of The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 introduced several significant features and amendments to the existing Indian Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. These changes aimed to enhance road safety, improve traffic management, and streamline various processes related to licencing, registration, and enforcement. Some of the key features of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 are as follows.

  • Stricter Penalties: The amended Act introduced higher penalties and fines for various traffic violations. Offences such as overspeeding, dangerous driving, drunk driving, and not wearing seat belts or helmets now attract significantly higher fines compared to the previous penalties.

  • Road Safety: The Act emphasises road safety measures by focusing on the use of safety equipment. It made it mandatory for all passengers, including those in the rear seats, to wear seat belts. Additionally, it mandated the use of child restraints for children travelling in vehicles.

  • Electronic Monitoring and Enforcement: The amended Act promotes the use of technology for improved traffic monitoring and enforcement. It allows for the use of electronic surveillance systems such as CCTV cameras, speed cameras, and red-light cameras to detect traffic violations.

  • Recognition of Online Platforms: The Act recognised online platforms for various processes, such as obtaining Driving Licences, vehicle registrations, and permits. This move aimed to simplify and streamline these processes, making them more accessible and convenient for the public.

  • Stricter Penalties for Juvenile Offenders: The Act introduced provisions for imposing stricter penalties on juvenile offenders involved in accidents. The registration of the vehicle involved in the accident can be cancelled, and the juvenile offender may be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.

  • Good Samaritan Protection: To encourage people to come forward and assist accident victims, the Act provides legal protection to "Good Samaritans" who provide emergency medical or non-medical assistance to the injured.

  • National Transportation Policy: The amended Act introduced the concept of a National Transportation Policy. This policy aims to provide a framework for the development and regulation of transport systems, addressing issues related to public transportation, last-mile connectivity, and multimodal transport.

  • Motor Vehicle Accident Fund: The Act established a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund to provide compulsory insurance coverage to all road users in India. This fund helps compensate victims of hit-and-run cases, uninsured vehicles, and accidents caused by unidentified vehicles.

Motor Vehicles Act: Key Provisions and Road Safety Measures

Here are the key provisions and road safety measures as per The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.

Licencing and Registration

  • Procedure for obtaining a Driving License and vehicle registration.

  • Mandatory tests and qualifications for obtaining a Driving licence.

  • Vehicle registration requirements and the role of Regional Transport Offices (RTOs).

Traffic Regulations and Road Rules

  • Speed limits, lane discipline, and overtaking regulations.

  • Traffic signals and their significance in maintaining road safety.

  • Rules regarding the use of seat belts, helmets, and child restraints.

  • Prohibition of mobile phone usage while driving.

Vehicle Safety Standards

  • Vehicle manufacturing standards and certification requirements.

  • Mandatory installation of safety features such as seat belts, airbags, and anti-lock braking systems.

  • Emission norms and pollution control measures.

Penalties and Offences

  • Classification of traffic violations and corresponding penalties.

  • Imposition of fines and penalties for various offences, including drunk driving, overspeeding, and overloading.

  • Traffic violation points system for repeat offenders.

Traffic violations under The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 introduced stricter penalties and fines for various traffic violations in India. The following is a list of some key violations as per the amended Act.

  • Overspeeding: Driving a vehicle at a speed exceeding the permissible limits as specified by the authorities.

  • Drunk Driving: Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other intoxicating substances.

  • Dangerous Driving: Driving in a rash or negligent manner that endangers the life, limb, or property of others on the road.

  • Not Wearing Seat Belts: Failing to wear a seat belt while driving or travelling as a passenger in a vehicle.

  • Not Wearing Helmets: Riding a two-wheeler without wearing a helmet, both for the rider and the pillion.

  • Using Mobile Phones While Driving: Use a mobile phone or any handheld electronic device while driving unless it is a case of an emergency.

  • Jumping Traffic Signals: Disregarding traffic signals, including red lights, and crossing intersections without following the prescribed rules.

  • Violating Lane Discipline: Improper lane usage, including frequent lane changes without proper indicators or without adhering to designated lanes.

  • Overloading of Vehicles: Carrying more passengers or goods than the permissible limit specified for the vehicle, leading to overcrowding or unbalanced loads.

  • Not Giving Way to Emergency Vehicles: Failing to yield or give way to emergency vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, or police vehicles with sirens or flashing lights.

  • Unauthorised Use of Vehicles: Using a vehicle without lawful authority or without a valid licence or permit.

  • Driving Without Insurance: Operating a motor vehicle without a valid insurance policy or third-party liability coverage.

  • Violating Pollution Norms: Non-compliance with the prescribed emission standards, leading to excessive pollution from the vehicle.

It is important to note that the penalties for these violations may vary based on the severity of the offence and subsequent amendments to the Act. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 introduced higher fines and penalties compared to the previous legislation to promote road safety and discourage traffic violations.

Updated Traffic Fines as per The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

The following table provides more information about the updated fines for traffic violations as per The MV Act 2019.

Traffic Violation

Fine as per MV Act, 2019 (in Rs.)

Fine as per MV Act, 1988 (in Rs.)

Riding or driving when intoxicated

First offence: 10,000 and/or imprisonment of 6 months (Second offence: 15,000 and/or imprisonment of 2 years)


Riding or driving without vehicle registration

First offence: 5,000 (Second offence: 10,000)


Riding or driving without a DL

5,000 as a penalty and/or community service


Riding or driving without insurance

First offence: 2,000 and/or imprisonment of 3 months and/or community service (Second offence: 4,000 and/or imprisonment of 3 months and/or community service)


Racing or speeding

First offence: 5,000 and/or imprisonment of 3 months (Second offence: 10,000 and/or imprisonment up to 1 year or community service)



Light Motor Vehicle (LMV): 2,000 - Medium/Heavy Passenger Vehicle: 2,000 to 4,000 along with DL seizure


Road regulation violations

500 to 1,000


Not wearing a seatbelt while driving

1,000 and the possibility of community service


Riding without a helmet (rider and pillion)

1,000 and/or DL disqualification and/or 3 months of community service


Overloading a two-wheeler

2000, licence disqualification and the possibility of community service for 3 months


Using a mobile phone while riding or driving



Dangerous riding or driving

First offence: 1,000 to 5,000 and/or imprisonment of 6 months to 12 months and the possibility of DL seizure (Second offence: 10,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment and the possibility seize of DL)

100 to 300

Overloading a heavy goods vehicle

20,000 and 2,000 per extra tonne and the possibility of community service

2,000 and 1,000 per extra tonne

Riding or driving even after disqualification

10,000 and the possibility of community service


Not obeying orders given by authorities



Oversized vehicle

5,000 to 10,000 and the possibility of community service


Blowing horn in a silent zone

First offence: 2,000 (Second offence: 4,000)


Juvenile violations

25,000 and/or up to 3 years of imprisonment for vehicle owner/guardian. Juvenile is not eligible to get a DL until 25-years-old


An enforcing authority committing an offence

Double the penalty (depending on the type of traffic violation)


Not letting emergency vehicles pass, such as fire engines, ambulances, etc.

10,000, and the possibility of community service


What is the reason behind the increase in fines for traffic violations?

The disregard for safety protocols while driving is a matter of great concern. Violations like failing to wear seat belts or entering restricted areas pose significant risks to road users. By increasing the penalties for traffic violations, there is a greater likelihood of individuals taking the laws and regulations more seriously.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few commonly asked questions and their answers related to The Motor Vehicles Act.


What are the penalties for traffic violations under the Motor Vehicles Act?

The penalties for traffic violations vary depending on the nature and severity of the offence. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 introduced stricter fines for violations such as overspeeding, drunk driving, not wearing seat belts or helmets, jumping traffic signals, and more.

How can I obtain a Driving Licence under the Motor Vehicles Act?

To obtain a DL, you need to fulfil certain eligibility criteria, including age limits, educational qualifications, and passing relevant tests. The process involves submitting necessary documents, undergoing driving tests, and paying the required fees.

How can I register a vehicle under the Motor Vehicles Act?

Vehicle registration requires submitting specific documents, such as proof of identity, address, and vehicle ownership. The process also involves paying the applicable fees and taxes to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) or designated authorities.

Can I renew my Driving Licence or vehicle registration online?

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 recognises online platforms for Driving Licence renewal, vehicle registration, and other related services. However, the availability and procedures may vary depending on the state and local transport department.

What are the safety requirements under the Motor Vehicles Act?

The Act emphasises the use of safety equipment such as seat belts, helmets, and child restraints. It also imposes standards for vehicle manufacturing, including the installation of safety features like airbags and anti-lock braking systems.

How can I report a violation or seek assistance related to the Motor Vehicles Act?

Violations can be reported to the traffic police or relevant authorities in your city or region. For general inquiries or assistance, you can contact the respective Regional Transport Office (RTO) or refer to official government websites and helpline numbers.

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Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only. It is recommended to take the help of an expert before making a decision.


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