In Chennai, if you violate a red signal or exceed the speed limit, your driver's license can be suspended. Continuing to drive after suspension may attract an additional fine of Rs 1,000. Since 2022, the state transport department has suspended around 12,300 licenses for various traffic violations.
To curb traffic offences, the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety has recommended a jail term of three to six months for serious violations like signal jumping, overspeeding, drunk driving, using mobile phone while driving and overloading luggage or passengers. Recommended a prison sentence of Rs. 1,000 is recommended. It was recommended to suspend the license for several months and impose a fine of Rs 5,000. The license can be canceled for repeated offences.
After the traffic police officer issues an e-challan for the violation, an SMS notification is sent to the registered mobile number of the offender, informing them of the fine and possible license suspension. However, many offenders miss this SMS and fail to pay the fine. The police also send notices about license suspension to the registered postal address of the offender, and offenders are given one month to submit an explanation. If the explanation is unsatisfactory, the license is suspended for 3-6 months depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Although it is ideal for the police to seize licenses on the spot when a violation occurs, this is not the case in all cases. As a result, some violators escape immediate punishment. However, if found driving with an invalid license during routine vehicle check, an additional fine of Rs 1,000 is imposed. According to official figures, around 5,000 motorists in Chennai pay this compounding fine every month.
In recent years, law enforcement has shifted its focus from primarily targeting drunk driving to other major crimes. Nearly 40% (4,846) of the licenses suspended in the last 18 months were for running red lights or failing to stop on designated lines.
This growth can be attributed to more rigorous manual checks and better digital enforcement. At present, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, which are capable of detecting violations without human intervention, have been installed at 12 major road junctions. The government plans to purchase an additional 214 cameras for Chennai, costing ₹10.5 crore.
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