Faulty breathalysers create problems for Hyderabad citizens

Published May 21, 2014, 5:01 am IST
Updated Apr 1, 2019, 6:53 am IST
Hyderabad police conduct breathalyser test on a man (Photo: DC archives)
 Hyderabad police conduct breathalyser test on a man (Photo: DC archives)

Hyderabad: City doctor Dr Nagender E. was heading home on the night of May 10 when Hyderabad police sprang an absolute surprise.
The doctor, who has never had a drink in his life (he’s even vegetarian) tested positive for illegal amounts of alcohol in his breath after police pulled him and his family over to the kerb for a check.

In his letter to the Deccan Chronicle, Dr Nagender revealed alarming details of his detainment: “I was going home, with my wife and three-year-old daughter at around 11:30 pm, when I was stopped for the test. And, I tested positive. I even offered to take a blood test and vowed in front of the police that I would accept any punishment if I tested positive again.”

“To my shock, they then got another guy to blow from far into the breathalyser and then asked me how he was ‘testing negative’. I argued saying I would test negative too if I was blowing from a distance. I was then taken to a superior officer and was then asked to keep blowing into a breathalyser, which I accepted, and soon, I tested negative. When I asked the officer, about the new result, I was just rudely asked to leave.”

The very troubled doctor then wondered about how others caught in a similar situation, would react. “This issue must be taken up seriously as I really sympathise with the innocent who are being harassed,” the doctor added. As a response to the doctor’s letter, Deccan Chronicle checked with authorities if the breathalyser machines were 100 per cent accurate, at all times.

Additional CP, Traffic, Jitender said: “Inaccuracy may arise, it’s a machine after all. If the policeman is not handling the device properly or if the calibration of the machine is wrong, errors can occur. But in the doctor’s case, he might have consumed something with alcohol as an ingredient.”

Inspector M. Srinivasulu, who heads a campaign against drunken driving in the city, says: “A person can even test positive if he or she has used a mouthwash, like Listerine, which has some alcohol content.”

But what happens if a vehicle carrying family is seized following the driver’s positive test at night? The police maintain that there is a “humanitarian approach” to the procedure.
“Traffic officers at the scene either call for an auto, cab or sometime even drop the person and his family home themselves,” assures ACP Jitender, while admitting that the doctor’s case is a rare one.

“We make sure proceedings happen in good faith and in a fair manner. This is one is a very rare case and if faced with a similar situation, a person can approach a police station, write to us on our Facebbok page, call us up and even email. All our contacts are up on our website.”

Location: Andhra Pradesh


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