Harsher rules for disqualified drivers?
Wed, 20 Feb 2013 6:09p.m.
By Charlotte Shipman
A coroner has recommended people who are jailed and disqualified from driving should lose their licences when they're freed.
At the moment, the licence suspension is served while they're behind bars and not driving anyway.
Judy Ashton visits daughter Debbie's grave regularly. But she believes she wouldn't have to if a coroner's recommendation had been in place in 2006, because Debbie's killer, Jonathan Barclay, wouldn't have been allowed to drive.
“He wouldn't possibly have been on the road anyway and Debbie might still have been alive,” says Ms Ashton. “So if this can save other young lives, excellent.”
When Debbie was killed, Barclay was on parole. He'd been drinking and was driving while disqualified. He had an extensive history of doing both.
For Debbie’s manslaughter he was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison, and again disqualified from driving for three years.
The Wellington coroner recommends driving disqualifications should begin after offenders leave prison. The Transport Minister agrees.
“I think there's a lot of merit in what he's said,” says Gerry Brownlee. “We're certainly looking at it.”
Prisoner's rights campaigner Kim Workman sees the coroner's logic but says it shouldn't be applied to every offender.
“We shouldn't restrict ourselves to predetermined outcomes,” she says.
A ministerial inquiry in 2008 accepted police, Corrections and Probation Services all failed Debbie Aston.
Barclay should have been in jail two months before he killed Debbie. Police stopped him for drink driving, but he used the name he'd been given under the police witness protection programme. He was treated as a first-time offender.
All departments promised they'd made changes. Six years later the inquest finally confirmed it.
“That's huge for me,” says Ms Aston. “It’s that peace of mind that I haven't had before.”
Ms Ashton's now looking forward to spending more time with her newest granddaughter, born last year, on the anniversary of the day Debbie died.
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24/02/2013 12:15:35 p.m.
Do you really think taking their licence will stop them from driving???Wow some people are a little remote from life... clearly.A licence is just a card and they will need more than that to deter them.Home D is effective as there is a record of them moving outside their limited zone. Perhaps a device in their car triggered by the same bracelet will be effective at least in preventing or recording spontaneous(or drunken) driving of their car may be workable.
21/02/2013 11:25:11 a.m.
Serial offenders don't care about any laws! Just crash their cars or do jail time.
21/02/2013 10:23:17 a.m.
I hear what you say mike but i think putting the teeth back into the law as you say needs to go across all offences.
As it stands even for burglary which carries an 8 year sentence, most burglars only do Periodic Detention which is a joke and again that's only for the burglaries they got caught doing!
Even murder in this country is a joke... some people sentenced for as little as 6 years! Paroled in 3-4!
21/02/2013 8:59:28 a.m.
In NZ more people are killed by drunks being lose killing people than by mad people lose with guns killing people.In the US Obama targeting guns, yet over 30,000 are killed on their roads every year and a good number of those are unlicensed drunks who kill more people than the mad people runing around shooting innocents.We need to change society and make it unacceptable to drink and drive, and to drive while disqualified.Lets change it so if you drink and drive, or drive while disqualified, that we up the charges from manslaughter to murder 1st degree. Lets also raise the charges where accidents and noone killed. Put some teeth into the law instead of the wrist slapping the soft judges favour. Many of the repeat offenders have more drink driving convictions than birthdays - and thats just those drives they were caught, when the amount of drink driving and driving while disqualified they have done is more like 20x that.
20/02/2013 8:19:24 p.m.
I agree with the coroner too on this one. If a sentence was mandatory then people would know what they are and think twice before doing the crime. Too many get off with a slap on the wrist and able to drive when the actual problems havent been addressed. If there was a ban on release from custody it certainly gives them more time to think about seeking help or having court imposed help as part of a sentence.
20/02/2013 7:37:25 p.m.
I agreed with Coroner the penalty for killer driver must be ban when released from prison for up to two years or more.
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