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DPP’s had enough of soft drink driving sentences

By johnboy - 23 August 2009 39

The ABC brings word that the Director of Public Prosecutions has had enough of soft sentencing for drink drivers in the Magistrate’s Court and is asking the Supremes to have a look at it.

    Last year 38-year-old Peter Waugh from Kambah recorded a blood-alcohol level of 0.185.

    He appeared in court in May on two drink-driving charges, one of which Chief Magistrate Ron Cahill dismissed.

    On the other charge, Magistrate Cahill sentenced Mr Waugh to a six-month good-behaviour bond on the conditions he not drive within 10 hours of drinking alcohol and pay $300 to a Canberra children’s cancer charity.

Too soft? Or just right?

What’s Your opinion?


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39 Responses to
DPP’s had enough of soft drink driving sentences
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goquietly 7:19 pm 27 Nov 09

Guilty plead to offence of 0.2 = six month suspension and $800 fine.

Claim by defendant’s lawyer that incident was “out of character” = priceless!

caf 8:50 pm 24 Nov 09

I believe in criminal cases there’s normally a bail hearing within a day or two of the arrest.

Tooks 7:08 pm 24 Nov 09

goquietly said :

Would you argue “due process” in a murder or aggravated assault case – that the perpetrator should sit at home waiting for their day in court?

They usually do!

goquietly 6:24 pm 24 Nov 09

Yes I learnt to drive in NSW and thought that serious driving offences = on the spot disqualification across the board. Apparently this is only the case for DUI in NSW and Victoria.

It’s all good and fine arguing due process etc, however there are other criminal matters which see offenders denied of their freedom before the matter is heard in court. Would you argue “due process” in a murder or aggravated assault case – that the perpetrator should sit at home waiting for their day in court?

Madame Workalot 4:47 pm 24 Nov 09

Sorry Caf, perhaps I should have clarified. I was addressing your point re due process generally from my knowledge of other jurisdictions.

NSW – immediate licence suspension for:
– A serious driving offence causing death or grievous bodily harm.
– Speeding in excess of 45 km/h over the speed limit.
– Middle or high range prescribed concentration of alcohol or committing other serious alcohol-related offences.
– A street racing offence.
– An aggravated burnout offence.
– Speeding in excess of 30km/h over the speed limit whilst the holder of a learner or provisional licence.
– Driving unaccompanied by a supervising driver whilst the holder of a learner licence.

AFAIK, ACT is one of very few jurisdictions that does not have immediate licence suspension for any offences.

Tooks 4:02 pm 24 Nov 09

You’re correct, caf.

caf 12:56 pm 24 Nov 09

Are they? I was under the impression that the demerit points and license suspension were not applied until you either paid the fine (waiving your right to contest it) or lost in court.

Madame Workalot 10:45 am 24 Nov 09

caf said :

Silly me presumed that if someone got booked at several times the legal limit, the police would simply cut their licence up into a gazillion pieces on the spot. Apparently not, they get to go home and continue to enjoy the privelige of driving until the court date comes up. Wierd!

Yeah, it’s a quaint little idea called “due process” that we’ve become quite attached to in the last 400 years.

Doesn’t really explain the fact that licences are suspended on the spot for excessive speeding offences though, does it….

I also thought that mid-high range drink driving was automatic licence suspension as well. I’d be grateful if someone could clarify this.

caf 10:22 am 24 Nov 09

Silly me presumed that if someone got booked at several times the legal limit, the police would simply cut their licence up into a gazillion pieces on the spot. Apparently not, they get to go home and continue to enjoy the privelige of driving until the court date comes up. Wierd!

Yeah, it’s a quaint little idea called “due process” that we’ve become quite attached to in the last 400 years.

goquietly 10:18 pm 23 Nov 09

Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I discovered that someone I know blew a high range BAC a couple of months ago. Higher than the one described in the OP.

Does anyone know when and how a DUI offender can request a restricted licence – is it at the initial court appearance after the DUI summons? Personally I will be absolutely disgusted if this person manages to get one (or even worse, as in the OP manages to not have their licence suspended at all).

The legislation is pretty clear that a high range first offender should get a minimum 6m suspension so can someone explain how the magistrate can dispense with that?

Also I’ve been surprised to discover the process followed in the ACT. Silly me presumed that if someone got booked at several times the legal limit, the police would simply cut their licence up into a gazillion pieces on the spot. Apparently not, they get to go home and continue to enjoy the privelige of driving until the court date comes up. Wierd!

George D 6:10 pm 26 Aug 09

Too soft. That driver is threatening to kill me.

No-one is ignorant anymore, they know what they’re doing, and still they continue. I came here from NZ, and was shocked by how cavalier people are about drunk driving here. I can only assume it is because people think that they won’t get caught, and if they do get caught the sentence will be light.

If you’ve drunk alcohol (more than one beer/wine), you shouldn’t be driving. You’re not a consistent judge of your own sobriety.

That said, with the huge distances in Canberra and terrible public transport, it’s not surprising that some people do. The thought of a $40 taxi fare is pretty daunting.

Also, “good driving record”, “upstanding member of the community” etc is bullshit. It basically means if you’re a 17 year old Somali boy you get a longer sentence for the same crime. If anything, being an “upstanding member of the community” should mean a longer sentence. You know better.

Qbn Gal 2:40 pm 25 Aug 09

“Qbn Gal said :

I believe a strong penalty (financial would have the greatest impact, such as $3,000 rather than the pathetic $300) is warranted as we want this to be the ONE AND ONLY time an intoxicated driver commits a DUI offence. A soft sentence is no deterrent to future offences in many cases.

To you $300 may be pathetic, to others a budget breaker and to some $3000 is a pittance. Fine them to meet costs of court and policing and then make them (on promise of prison) carry out community service over 2 to 3 months to give them time think about it for longer than it takes to Bill Pay. It would also be equitable. About 75% of first time caught drink drivers are not caught again. Massive fines would create more bad will than any tiny reduction in re-offense would warrant. Constant offenders (3rd and out) should be removed from our roads.”

No, Monomania, $300 is not pathetic to me. My point is that we need a very strong deterrent and very often the hip pocket is where it hurts people the most. As for community service, I agree that would be a good thing too, but only if they turn up.

DJ 12:30 pm 25 Aug 09

Thumper said :

Bollocks. You’ll know you actions could harm or kill somebody something happens or before?

DJ, we’re talking .05 here. Not roll me over fall down dead drunk. Two wines at dinner is enough in some cases to put a person over the limit. In fact some people could be over after one wine. They are not drunk, they are still completely capable of logical thoughts and actions.

This is the point I was trying to make.

But I still stick to what I said previously in that anyone who is plastered or a repeat offender should be punished severely.

While I see your point I disagree. Just don’t drink alcohol at all if there is a chance you might be behind the wheel. That way there is no chance of any miscalculation or mistake.

+1 for your thoughts regarding repeat offenders.

housebound 12:16 pm 25 Aug 09

I keep reading this as “soft drink” driving sentences, which reinforces my prejudices aginst those fizzy drinks and their evil effects on the screaming-levels of small children.

Thumper 12:00 pm 25 Aug 09

Bollocks. You’ll know you actions could harm or kill somebody something happens or before?

DJ, we’re talking .05 here. Not roll me over fall down dead drunk. Two wines at dinner is enough in some cases to put a person over the limit. In fact some people could be over after one wine. They are not drunk, they are still completely capable of logical thoughts and actions.

This is the point I was trying to make.

But I still stick to what I said previously in that anyone who is plastered or a repeat offender should be punished severely.

sunshine said :

DJ said :

Thumper said :

Anyone can make a mistake, once. No need to destroy someone’s life simply because they had one wine to mnay at dinner.

Second time it’s not a mistake. Throw the book at them.

As for multiple repeat offenders? long gaol terms, it’s obvious that there is no hope of rehabilitation or even acknowledgement of their deeds.

One too many or… it’s not that far home, I’ll risk it.

It isn’t destroying a life, it may be saving one. Too bad for those that suffer the consequences of their own actions. Nobody is making them drink.

couldn’t agree with you more DJ

+1 from me. Can’t get fairer than that.

Special G 9:02 pm 24 Aug 09

Add burnout/street racig legislation to drink driving as well. !st offence car is impounded for 3 months. 2nd offence car is forfeit to the territory. Would make repeat offenders think twice. Then again would probably cause more pursuits as people try to run knowing if they get caught their car is gone.

Repeat offenders must have a breath screening device installed in their car in order to start it.

Name and shame in the media. Riot could start this by accessing the Court drink driving lists and publishing the results. It’s a public record.

Public floggings in Garema Place.

Just throwing some ideas out there.

sunshine 7:32 pm 24 Aug 09

DJ said :

Thumper said :

Anyone can make a mistake, once. No need to destroy someone’s life simply because they had one wine to mnay at dinner.

Second time it’s not a mistake. Throw the book at them.

As for multiple repeat offenders? long gaol terms, it’s obvious that there is no hope of rehabilitation or even acknowledgement of their deeds.

One too many or… it’s not that far home, I’ll risk it.

It isn’t destroying a life, it may be saving one. Too bad for those that suffer the consequences of their own actions. Nobody is making them drink.

couldn’t agree with you more DJ

DJ 7:09 pm 24 Aug 09

Inappropriate said :

Thumper said :

Anyone can make a mistake, once. No need to destroy someone’s life simply because they had one wine to mnay at dinner.

Exactly. No need to ruin someone’s life (and their dependents) for one stupid mistake. Different story though if actual harm came about from their inebriation.

Bollocks. You’ll know you actions could harm or kill somebody something happens or before?

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