Crack down on recidivist drink drivers

David Farrar recently blogged on The Herald on Sunday’s story Number of repeat drink-drivers on the up. As I have previously blogged, I am largely supportive of the government’s response to the Law Commission review but I do feel that this is an area where they could do better. The government has proposed some measures to combat recidivist drink-driving, but they should have a much stronger focus on alcohol abusers who genuinely pose a threat to society rather than responsible drinkers. The HoS reported:

The number of recidivist drink-drivers has risen steadily over the past three years, and more than 4000 have been prosecuted already this year.

Many of them are involved in fatal crashes.

Figures released to the Herald on Sunday under the Official Information Act reveal 7200 people were convicted of their third or more drink-driving offence in 2009 compared with 6995 in 2008 and 6639 in 2007.

While the Business Roundtable has been critical of many of the Law Commission’s recommendations, we have gone on the record (p. 23) calling for tougher action in serious drink-driving cases. Last year in a media release on the Law Commission report I posed the question:

Why, for example, do we tolerate repeat drink driving offences without cancelling licences, naming and shaming offenders more prominently, using ignition interlocks, confiscating vehicles in serious cases and jailing recidivists?

I also think car-crushing was a brilliant idea for boy racers; why not do the same for recidivist drink drivers?

We need solutions like these that target alcohol abusers who pose a threat to society.– not laws that discriminate against responsible citizens, like banning dairies from selling wine or banning 18 and 19 year olds from off-licence purchasing (we would join only 11 other countries in the world with a minimum age of 20). I do have sympathy for 18 and 19 year olds and the ‘old enough to get married, join the army, go to jail, vote etc’ argument.

Meanwhile I read yesterday Professor Doug ‘the Ayatollah’ Sellman of the Alcohol Action Group calling supermarkets drug pushers and comparing their sale of wine to ecstasy or morphine. He wants to ban all alcohol sales in supermarkets. I wonder which countries we’d be joining if that basic convenience was removed from our lives?

To address problems like recidivist drink driving we need policies that target the misuse of alcohol rather than responsible use.

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