This article has been written by Aaditya Kapoor, a law-aspiring student of Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies. Through his research, Aaditya strived to shed light upon provisions and necessity of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.


The Motor Vehicles Act was passed by the Indian Parliament in 1988. The Act regulates nearly all aspects of road vehicles, along with providing detailed provisions on driver and driver licensing, motor vehicle registration, permit control provision, traffic regulation, associated insurance, liabilities, and penalties. This act focuses mainly on vulnerable pedestrians on the road who might be harmed by these motor vehicle drivers. The motor vehicle act provides a liability clause for those vulnerable individuals. They are referred to as “Third Party” and the motor vehicle act is about ensuring protection for such third-party persons.

The motor vehicle act makes it mandatory for a driver to hold a valid driving license and no motor vehicle can be driven without the motor vehicle act being licensed. This registration card is valid for the next fifteen years from the date of registration, which can be extended for the next five years.

Offences and their punishment as prescribed under the Motor Vehicles Act

• Under section 3 r/w 181 of the Motor Vehicles Act, a driver without a valid license is liable to pay a fine of INR 500/- and he or she can also face imprisonment of about three months.

• Under section 5 r/w 180 of the Motor Vehicles Act, if a person not having a valid license is found driving, the person authorizing such act shall be fined with a penalty of INR 1000/- with or without three months ‘ imprisonment.

• According to section 130(3) r/w 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, a person not carrying all the required documents shall be liable to pay an INR 100/- penalty.

• According to section 130 r/w 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, a person is liable to pay a fine of INR 1000/- if found driving without valid insurance with or without three-month imprisonment.

• According to section 130 r/w 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, an individual shall be liable to pay a fine of  INR 5000/- if he/she is found without a valid license.

• According to section 39, r/w 192 of the Act, a person not having valid R.C. shall be liable to pay an INR 2000/- fine for his or her car.

• According to section 4 r/w 181 of Motor Vehicles Act, the owner of the vehicle is liable to pay a penalty of INR 500/- for driving of the vehicle by a minor.

• A penalty of INR 1000/- shall be levied According to section 5 r/w 180 Motor Vehicles Act to a person that allows an unauthorized person to drive.

• A person driving without a helmet shall be liable to pay a penalty of INR 100/- According to section 129 r / w 177 Motor Vehicles Act.

• Pursuant to section 138(3) CMVR 177 Motor Vehicles Act, a person driving without fastening his seat belt is liable to pay INR 100/- fine.

• According to section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act, an individual found to be doing reckless driving shall be liable to pay INR 1000/- fine.

• According to section 112-183 of the Motor Vehicles Act, a rushed or dangerous driver is liable to pay a fine of INR 1000/- with or without imprisonment depending upon the extent of the violation.

• According to section 17(i) RRR 177 of Motor Vehicles Act, a driver shall be liable to pay a fine amounting to INR 100/- if found driving against the one way in one direction. 

Changes to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

The 2019 Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill is based on State Transport Ministers Committee recommendations. Since the Act wanted to deter individuals from breaking traffic rules, it introduced heavy fines for drunken driving, license-free driving, hazardous driving, over-speeding, etc. As notified by the central government, these penalties will increase by 10 per cent on April 1 each year. The new Act also extended the renewal period from one month to one year after the expiry date for driving licenses. In case the extension is expired by longer than a year, the applicant would be forced to take a skill test. The Act also promises to protect from any civil or criminal liability those persons who render medical or non-medical emergency assistance to a victim of an accident. The limited death or grievous damage insurance due to hit and fall was significantly pushed up.

According to data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 4.64 lakh accidents occurred in 2017 which claimed the lives of 1.47 lakh people. More than a third of all road accidents involved two-wheelers. Little by little, as all States begin to implement the provisions of the Act with heavier fines and imprisonment for drunken driving, driving without a license and insurance and juvenile offences, people can begin to follow rules and road accidents can actually reduce. It is necessary to have legitimate auto insurance so that the aggrieved parties get coverage in a road accident.

However, State governments are free to make their own laws and regulations, provided that it is just a model statute. Success depends on how well they are following the act’s provisions.

Necessity of Motor Vehicles Act

Not following the rules of traffic and road safety as provided for in the Act can lead to severe monetary compensation. The fine has increased to ₹1,000 for not wearing a helmet, and the liability can also be subject to a three-month license disqualification. The fine is currently around ₹1,000 for not wearing a seatbelt. The penalty has risen from ₹ 500 to ₹5,000 for pace or speeding and from ₹2,000 to ₹10,000 for drunken driving. The new Act also requires incarceration for serious offences, in addition to greater fines. Speed racing can attract three months in prison (with or without a fine); if caught for the second time, this will extend to a period of one year. For minor-related crimes, the vehicle’s parent or owner shall be judged guilty and disciplined with an estimated 25,000-fine and three-year jail sentence. The juvenile would be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and motor vehicle registration will be cancelled for a 12 month period. The owner of a motor vehicle who changes it by retrofitting sections of a motor vehicle in a way not allowed by the Act shall be disciplined with incarceration for a period of up to six months (and/or a fine of up to ₹5,000 for such alteration).

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