Smell test in Nepal for drivers

Smell test in Nepal for drivers

KATHMANDU - Agence France-Presse
Smell test in Nepal for drivers

Policeman leaning in to smell the breath of a driver to test alcohol level. AFP photo

With breathalyzers scarce and blood tests unavailable, the method for catching lawbreakers in Kathmandu is primitive as police officers simply stop drivers and engage them in conversation. If they believe they smell alcohol, they then question the suspect and decide whether to seize their license and issue the fine. Two months ago, police introduced breathalyzers following complaints about the “smell test,” but half of the 150 devices malfunctioned, forcing officers to again rely on their noses.

While most countries tolerate traces of alcohol in motorists’ blood, Kathmandu is among about 20 capital cities worldwide where alcohol is legally available but citizens must only drive if they have drunk none at all.

“Last year, during a six-month period, there were 253 road accidents,” said Bipin Gautam, an inspector who runs the talks for drink-drivers. “But since December 3, when we began, to May 30, there were only 49 accidents.” Ganesh Rai, deputy inspector general of Kathmandu Traffic Police, who is overseeing the zero-tolerance policy, says that those who oppose it are misguided.

Nepal, Smell tes