New Delhi: Close to 17,000 Delhiites have been caught for drunken driving since January, making the number the highest for any year in the history of Delhi Police.

While driving licences have been suspended in 2,200 cases this year, 2,869 were sent to prison to check the menace of drunken driving in the capital. More than 5,000 cases are still under trial.

"We have already prosecuted 16,850 violations for drunken driving in the city. In our view, drunken driving is an important cause of accidents in the city," Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Satyendra Garg said.

"Prosecutions this year have been at an all time high and this has resulted in lesser accidents," he added.

"Maximum prosecutions before 2011 were in 2009 when 12,784 people were prosecuted in the entire year," he said, adding that action against drunken driving has had a positive effect on accidents as it came down by six percent this year.

Garg said that increased prosecution does not mean drunken driving has gone up in the city.

"Drunken driving, on the other hand, has come down drastically. One indication is that previously in the city- wide check we used to get 280-300 violations in one checking, now we rarely get more than 130-140," he said.

While prosecutions stood at 11,388 in 2010, this year it has already been an "all-time high" at more than 12,900.

The prosecution figures for the past 10 years: 689 (2000), 1,545 (2001), 2,464 (2002), 2,793 (2003), 2,664 (2004), 3,551 (2005), 4,286 (2006), 4,192 (2007), 8,296 (2008) and 12,784 (2009).