Tougher sentencing

plan for drink-drive


AS a child in the 1950s I was enthralled by the American police dramas on the then black and white TV.

One such was Highway Patrol starring the late, great Broderick Crawford as tough cop Dan Matthews. The shows always ended with an appropriate one liner and one I remember was ‘Clowns are real funny in the circus, but on the road they are murder'.

A comment that applies just as much today as it did then.

But there are moves that could wipe the smile off the faces of drunken or drugged-up clowns at the wheel.

There are now proposalsto charge any drink and drug drivers with manslaughter if they kill someone in a crash.

The move is part of a proposed shake-up of criminal justice after MPs demanded harsher and more consistent sentencing of offenders.

There have been many calls for greater consistency in sentencing, particularly in drink driving, where it is vital to send a strong message. The present reliance on individual judges to be either harsh or lenient with offenders is really no longer appropriate.

The proposed new guidelines would involve greater use of the manslaughter charge, meaning that drink or drug drivers who kill someone in a collision could face life in prison.

The highest sentence for death by careless driving under the influence was formerly 10 years but it was increased to 14 in 2004. Causing death by dangerous driving can also lead to a sentence of 14 years.

David Williams of GEM Motoring Assist stated: "The act of driving a vehicle while intoxicated is serious enough in itself. If that then results in the death of someone unfortunate enough to be in that driver's way, then we believe a manslaughter charge is right. This, we hope, should act as a strong deterrent to anyone willing to risk driving after taking alcohol or drugs."

Such a sentencing option is a true deterrent and if the fact that it is there can save lives then it is a definite plus for road safety.


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