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Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019: Heavy Penalties to Ensure Greater Compliance

India has developed a reputation with the highest number of fatalities during road accidents in the world. This is a rather shameful thing for the largest democracy. What it points towards is the poor state of law and how people are not complying with the rules on the roads. It goes without saying that there is a compelling need to rein in the road deaths and for that the Government of India has recently passed amendments to Motor Vehicles Act. The new act dubbed “Motor vehicle Amendment Act 2019” has been passed by the parliament recently and came into effect from September 1, 2019. The act has a total of 63 provisions dealing with a range of issues such as registration, licenses, penalties, transport policy, etc.

The most significant amendment that the government has made to old laws is to hike the penalties for violation of traffic rules – you now have to pay a heavy amount for breaking the law. This has been done to achieve higher compliance and ensure that people think twice before infringing the rules. Notification in this regard was issued by the transport ministry on August 28 and here’s a low down of laws that now define and rule the traffic issues in India:

1) Driving without seat belts or talking on the phone - a penalty of Rs.1000-5000

If you drive without wearing the seat belt, you have to now pay a fine of Rs 1000 compared to the earlier penalty of Rs 100. Using the mobile phone while driving will now attract a penalty anywhere between Rs 1000 and Rs 5000 though in the old law, the penalty was Rs 1000.

2) Drinking and driving- a penalty of Rs 2000 to Rs 10,000

The new law has stringent provision for drunken driving as a monetary penalty for infringement has been hiked from Rs 2000 to Rs 10,000. This is sure to discourage people from driving in a drunken state and make the roads safe especially on the days of festivities, Christmas, and more importantly on the
eve of New Year.

3) Driving without a license - fine of Rs 5000

If you caught driving without a license then be ready to pay heavy penalty from now onwards. The new law proposes a fine of Rs 5000 for driving without license compared to the earlier penalty of Rs 500. People found driving despite being disqualified by authorities will have to pay Rs 10,000 penalty compared to Rs 500 according to provisions of the earlier law.

4) Driving license violation by commercial cars- a penalty of Rs 1 lakh

Taxi aggregators need to be really careful as a violation of driving license will attract a ridiculously heavy penalty of Rs 1 lakh. This much amount, we are sure, no aggregator will like to pay and hence, we can certainly expect the higher compliance from the commercial market.

5) Blocking the way of Ambulance or fire truck- a penalty of Rs 10,000

Obstructing the way of emergency service vehicles like ambulance and fire brigade will lead you to shell out Rs 10,000 as a penalty.

6) Overspeeding - a penalty of Rs 1000 and Rs 2000

The issue of overspeeding is quite a big problem in our country and to control this, the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 proposes a penalty between Rs 1000 and Rs 2000 for the category of a light motor vehicle (earlier it ranged between Rs 400 and Rs 1000). For the medium passenger vehicle segment, the fine will be Rs 2000.

7) Driving with an invalid insurance certificate - Rs 2000; no helmet- a
penalty of Rs 1000

Not having a valid insurance certificate will lead to a fine of Rs 2000 while riding without helmets will attract a penalty of Rs 1000. In addition, riders without a helmet can face suspension of their driving license for 3 months.

8) Overloading of vehicles - a penalty of Rs 20,000

We have witnessed many road accidents especially in the hilly areas of the country owing to the overloading of buses/vehicles. The new act has the provision of a penalty of Rs 20,000 for the overloading of vehicles and this should result in higher compliance from the fleet operators.

9) Underage driving - a penalty of Rs 25,000 + jail for 3 years & more

In order to effectively tackle the problem of underage driving, the new law
proposes holding the owner of the vehicle or guardians of the minor responsible for the crime. The penalty in such cases includes a fine of Rs 25,000 in addition to an imprisonment of three years. Moreover, the registration of the vehicle will also be canceled. The provision of imprisonment is likely to result in better compliance and we can expect that the incidents related to minor driving will likely to come down in the future.

10) All licenses will be issued post passing the online test

The new law also focuses on taking the whole system online as Union Road Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, said that the process of issuing the licenses will be completely online in the future and anyone who applies has to pass the online test for getting the driving license.

All these provisions of the new Motor vehicle Amendment Act 2019 are expected to yield a positive result in terms of getting more compliance from riders and drivers on roads. These will help India to reduce the number of deaths in road accidents and improve its road safety record in the future. In addition to these strict provisions, the government (both center and state) should also focus on to improve the conditions of roads in the country as many a time the potholes or deep road cavities result in a fatal accident. Nonetheless, the new law is a step in the right direction and should help to improve safety on roads.