Drunken Driving: Breath Analyser Test Or Blood Test Mandatory For Prosecution Under Motor Vehicles Act

  • Anadi Tewari
  • 01:47 PM, 15 Jan 2021

The Kerala High Court has held that a breath analyser test or any other test for detection of alcohol level is mandatory to enunciate prosecution under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1989.

The bench has observed that in order to attract the offence under Section 185(a) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 'the accused should have been subjected to a breath analyser or any other test including a laboratory test and his blood found to contain alcohol exceeding 30 mg per 100 ml.'

The bench of Justice V.G Arun was hearing an appeal against the order of Judicial Magistrate - First Class, wherein the Magistrate has convicted the petitioner under Section 279 and 337 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

The Petitioner before the High Court has only challenged the inclusion of offence under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

The petitioner alleges that:

"the offence under Section 185 would be attracted only when alcohol content is detected through the breath analyser test. It is contended that no such test has been conducted, the entire prosecution is illegal."

The High Court relying on the decision in Sagimon v. State of Kerala [2014 (3) KLT 782] has observed that prior to the amendment of Section 185 in 2019, it 'mandated detection of blood alcohol level through a breath analyser test. After the amendment, other tests, including laboratory test, can be resorted for determining alcohol content in blood.'

The Court while quashing the proceedings against the Petitioner in regard to Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act has observed:

"But, as far as the instant case is concerned, no such test is seen to have been conducted. Being so, the petitioner cannot be prosecuted for the offence under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act. As a result, the Crl.M.C is allowed to the limited extent of quashing further proceedings against the petitioner under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act."


Case Title: Manoj Kumar K. V. State of Kerala

Statute/Point of Law Involved: Motor Vehicles Act, Indian Penal Code