Traffic Laws in India


This article is written by Tanya Singh, a 1st year student from Amity University, Chhattisgarh

India has the second largest road networks in the world and accounts for 10% of worldwide road fatalities. Laws regulating the traffic on the road are provided under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is an Act of passed by the Parliament of India which came into force from July 1, 1989 and is applicable to whole of India however lapses in traffic laws regulations, violations and accidents are glaring reality. India was having such enactment in place since the year 1914 but the menace of driving is still on and victims look upon the suitability of laws to curb such menace. Various important judgments are there reflecting upon concerns on road safety issue some of the important ones are discussed herein. Road accidents, traffic jams, road rage, under-age driving, driving under the influence of alcohol are some of the prime issues which essentially makes it important to reflect upon the current situations.

Driving sensibly is a responsibility-legal, social and moral, however rarely seen. Omission of this duty can bring the irresponsible driver, owner of the vehicle, insurer and others not only in a legal battle but huge pain and sufferings for victim and his family members suffering for life.

Traffic congestion is one of the common problems faced by nearly all the people in India. The fundamental reason behind this is that the existing roadways are not capable of handling the increasing number of motor vehicles on roads.

Cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Patna, Lucknow, etc., have to deal with this common problem of traffic. They have to deal with thousands of cars running through the streets each day. They share the same problem of traffic and the reason behind the problem is also same; increasing number of cars on the road, poor road management, poor practices on behalf of employers, etc.

The population has increased, and therefore more people are adding into the city’s population day by day. Cities have limited capacity but over-crowding leads to chaos. A city has a limited capacity to expand due to lack of proper planning and infrastructure. A Street in a city with a lane on each side before might not suffice after few years when the population has increased.

limited space and lack of proper infrastructure add to the problem. Planning plays a significant role in building any infrastructure. Government fails to see the future and act on it. Hence, cities are forced to work with the routes they already have. This being the vital reason for traffic congestion.

India has the second largest road networks in the world and it accounts for 10% of worldwide road fatalities. From this point of view, Road safety responsibility becomes essential for everyone. Traffic laws become imperatively crucial there are few laws regarding traffic laws are discussed in the paper, which needs to be known to all who travel and drive.


Registration is a proof of ownership, and it is also an important document for the sale of a vehicle and transfer of its ownership. Vehicle Registration is mandatory under the purview of section 39 of The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 that falls under the Concurrent List of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India. Section 39 prohibits driving of any unregistered motor vehicle and states that no owner of the vehicle should permit driving of an unregistered vehicle in public place, which is not registered under the provision of the MV Act. The exception to this provision is cars with the dealers. Section 192 of The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, states that whoever drives a motor vehicle or causes or allows a motor vehicle to be used in contravention of the provisions of Section 39 shall be punishable with a fine, which may extend to five thousand rupees but shall not be less than two thousand rupees for a second time or subsequent offence with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees but shall not be less than five thousand rupees or with both.


To register a new, private, non-commercial vehicle, you need to apply in the prescribed form (either available online or with the concerned local authorities) to the RTO (Regional Transport Officer)/Transport Department of the area of your residence.

On purchasing a new vehicle, the owner must apply for registration within seven days from the date of delivery of the vehicle with the following documents:

  • Filled in Application Form . The form is available with all registering authorities in every state across the country
  • Sales Certificate in original . supplied by the dealer/seller at the time of delivery of the vehicle
  • Road Worthiness Certificate . supplied by the manufacturer and handed over by the dealer at the time of delivery of the vehicle
  • Attested copy of a valid Insurance Certificate
  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Residence
  • Customs Clearance Certificate if the vehicle has been imported.
  • Challan Receipt
  • Affidavit on Rs. 3/- non-judicial stamp paper
  • Chassis Pencil print


As per the Section 3 of the Central Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 nobody can drive at any public place until he holds an effective driving license issued to him authorizing him to drive the vehicle. A motor cab or motor vehicle hired by a person for his personal use or rented under a scheme to drive a transport vehicle is an exception. Section 5 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 talks about the responsibility of the owner to not to allow one’s vehicle to be driven by others.

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  1. Learner’s License

The Learner’s License is a kind of temporary license. It is valid up to only six months. It is issued on the basis of the place where you reside or where you work or on the basis of the school or the place where one intend to receive driving instructions. Learner’s license holder is not eligible to drive a transport vehicle unless he drives a light motor vehicle (LMV) for one year.

Learner’s License to drive an LMV:

Under this provision, no person under the age of 18 years shall be eligible for a learner’s license and to drive a motor vehicle without gear except in writing with the person having the care of the person (guardian). A medical certificate is an essential requirement for the application form in case of the vehicle other than LMV.

  1. Permanent Driving License

The Permanent driving license is issued after thirty days (to apply within 180 days) from the date of issue of the learner license. It is presumed that the person who gets the permanent driving license should be familiar with all the vehicle systems, driving, traffic rules & regulations.

  1. Duplicate Driving License

Duplicate License is issued in the case of loss, theft, or on mutilation of the original license. The required documents are:

  • An LLD application form LLD
  • If license gets lost, you need to submit a copy of FIR for the same.
  • Challan clearance report from RTO Office (in case of commercial license renewal)
  1. Motorcycle License or Two-wheeler License

A motorcycle license or Two-wheeler license is issued by the Regional Transport Authority (RTO) to permit driving of only two-wheeler vehicles like the bike, scooter, moped etc.

  1. Light Motor Vehicle License (LMV)

The Light Motor Vehicle License is issued to drive light motor vehicles only. The Light motor vehicle includes the jeep, motor car, auto rickshaws, taxi, three-wheeler delivery vans etc.

  1. Heavy Motor Vehicle License (HMV)

It is issued to drive Heavy Motor Vehicle. Heavy Motor Vehicle includes heavy vehicles like trucks, buses, tourist coaches, cranes, goods carriages, etc. A person with HMV license can drive light vehicles but a person having Light Motor Vehicle License is not permitted to drive heavy vehicles.

  1. International Driving License

The motor licensing authority also issues International Driving License. A person visiting the country is required to collect the license from there within one year period. Documents which are required to produce address proof, birth certificate, valid passport and valid visa. The validity of this license is for one year.


Anyone who is above 18 years of age is eligible to obtain a driving license by following the prescribed procedures. But a person who is under the age of 16 years can drive a motor vehicle of engine capacity not exceeding 50cc. No person under the age of 20 years shall be eligible to drive a transport vehicle.


An application for a driving license shall be made in form no.4 and shall be accompanied by:

  • You need an effective learner’s license to drive the vehicle of the type to which application relates.
  • You have to pay appropriate fee as specified for the test of competence to drive and issue of license.
  • Nationality Proof and citizenship Proof. (Attested photocopies)
  • One recent passport size photograph
  • A driving certificate in Form No. 5 & 14 issued by the school or establishment from where you received instructions.
  • Category of the vehicle, you are applying for the license.


According to section 19 of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 a license can go for suspension if he has caused death or grievous hurt of one or more persons. Conditions where Licensing Authority can revoke a license are:

  • Habitual Criminal
  • Drunkard
  • Addicted to Psychotropic substances and Narcotic Drugs.
  • Does any fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining the Driving License.
  • Has used or is using a motor vehicle in the commissioning of offenses.
  • Driving to cause danger to public based on previous conduct.

Any person, who is under the age of 18 years, has been granted the learner’s license, but at present, he is not under the care of such guardian.


Following are some offences related to document under the motor vehicles act 1988:

OFFENCES RELATED TO DOCUMENTS: offences Maximum penalty Section
1. Driving without a Valid License Rs. 500/- and /or imprisonment (3 months) 3 r/w 181 MVA
2. Allowing vehicle to be driven by a person who does not possess a Valid License. Rs. 1000/- and/or imprisonment (3 months) 5 r/w 180 MVA
3 Not carrying documents as required. Rs. 100/- 130(3) r/w 177 MVA
4. Driving without Valid Insurance. Rs. 1000/- and/or imprisonment (3 months) 130(3) r/w 177 MVA
5. Driving without Valid Permit. Rs. 5000/- (not less than Rs. 2000/-) 130 r/w 177 MVA
6. Driving without Valid Fitness. Rs. 5000/- (not less than Rs. 2000/-) 130 r/w 177 MVA
7. Vehicle without R.C. Rs 2000/- 39 r/w 192 MVA


There is absolute need for strict traffic laws and its compliances as a number of road accidents are increasing day by day in the country. Rigorous road safety programs alone cannot ensure the road safety. There is a need to understand that we have not jumped on the road to enter a race or overtake others but to travel through it. We should not only ensure owns safety but others too by following traffic laws.


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