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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
Inappropriate 1:14 pm 24 Aug 09

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.

54-11 12:33 pm 24 Aug 09

The key point bhere is the reading – 0.185. This is well over three times the limit.

If this was a first offence, and the reading was low-range, then some leniency and education would be fine.

However, this reading puts this character way outside those considerations. For the record, I have no DUI convictions, and also beleive that the old .08 was a better limit, and when that is exceeded, then harsh penalties should apply across the board.

Thumper 12:01 pm 24 Aug 09

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.

Qbn Gal 11:08 am 24 Aug 09

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.

Clown Killer 10:42 am 24 Aug 09

Hard to say without the full facts.

Keep in mind too that a blood alcohol content – even a high range one – is the actual offence. Whilst it’s very disturbing to know that such folk are out and about on our roads, the courts have to deal with facts rather than probabilities or possibilities – as grim as they may be.

DarkLadyWolfMother 10:36 am 24 Aug 09

I’m wondering if anything like “good driving record”, “upstanding member of the community” and suchlike would mean that much should someone get drunk, drive and kill someone due to “poor judgement”?

I tend to view drunk drivers in the same way I’d view someone wandering around with a loaded weapon with the safety off: they may not mean to be, but they are a danger to other people and sentences should reflect this.

benoncehobbled 9:42 am 24 Aug 09

“soft drink driving”
Why on earth are people getting in trouble for driving whilst under the influence of Sprite and Fanta?!

AG Canberra 9:39 am 24 Aug 09

Mandatory sentencing should apply for offences such as drink driving. People drink and drive becuase they aren’t scared of getting caught and suffering the consequences. If we continue to go soft on offenders what is the deterrant?

Primal 8:24 am 24 Aug 09

Take away his licence and make him use public transport for 6 months.

(or is ACTION banned under the Geneva Convention?)

hax 9:30 pm 23 Aug 09

MuddlingStick said :

Soft hands first offence, give people enough rope to hang themselves, repeat offenders throw away the key.

I agree that any repeat drink-driving offense should be very harsh.

I resent the thought that I’m sharing the road with people having impaired judgement, because maybe they’re not scared enough of what will happen if they get caught.

A spotless record makes no difference if you wipe out somebody else’s family because of a ‘poor choice’. (emphasis being on choice)

astrojax 8:24 pm 23 Aug 09

i saw the title of the thread and wondered how many soft drinks put you over the limit – honestly oshifer, i obly had three soda lime and bittarz…

this is very soft! as the new stick notes, alcohol, as a drug, impairs judgement and makes a driver of a tonne or more of metal a dangerous thing. i don’t even know about soft hands for first offences, especially more than three time (not ‘just over’) the limit – i think every driver knows the law, and if there are some who somehow don’t, bad luck… off to porridge with you.

DJ 6:59 pm 23 Aug 09

Far too soft (without knowing the full story) – there are very few circumstances where this could be considered appropriate.

Alcohol inhibits judgement – really?

I am guessing he was sober at some point in time before the incident occured and he should have made better arrangements to not drive after drinking.

Punter 6:54 pm 23 Aug 09

I disagree Muddling stick. A poor decision would be to select the right lane of a three lane road when you need to exit to the left within 50 metres. A choice to drive a motor vehicle when you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.185 is way more than a simple mistake. There is no doubt this man would have known he was affected by alcohol when he chose to drive a car and he should expect to face appropriate consequences now he has been convicted. I support any move to deter people from making such choices on our roads.

JB, I vote too soft, and good luck to the DPP with their appeal.

Ozi 6:09 pm 23 Aug 09

I think you will find that this may be a “throw away the key” type affair… That said, maybe there were extenuating circumstances which came out in court.

MuddlingStick 2:01 pm 23 Aug 09

Not knowing enough about the case, I can imagine circumstances where this sentence was appropriate.

Mr Waugh, 38 years old, did he have any prior traffic or road offences? Otherwise he could well have 20 years of spotless driving record, a family, job, contribute to the community and otherwise be an upstanding member of society.

People make poor decisions and learn from them. I think soft hands for first offences can be appropriate. I don’t think Mr Waugh will be looking at this as ‘getting off easy’, nor would I (as somebody with a DUI conviction), because he will know as a repeat offender all those qualities will go out the window and he will face harsh, severe punishments.

Poor decisions are made by all of us, some make poor lifestyle choices, poor work choices, poor family choices, some people make potentially life-threatening poor choices such as drinking and being in the position of being able to drive a car.

Alcohol inhibits judgement.

Soft hands first offence, give people enough rope to hang themselves, repeat offenders throw away the key.

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