The Daily Telegraph - Monday 24 October, 2005

Drink-drive crisis

By Brad Clifton

DRINK-driving has almost reached epidemic proportions, with about 25,000 over-the-limit motorists appearing before the courts each year, the state's deputy chief magistrate says.

A parade of drink-drivers pass before Graeme Henson in the Downing Centre Local Court every day, seemingly taking up more court time than any other group of offenders.

Mr Henson says the number of drink-drivers appearing in court "continues to hover around the mid-20,000s" each year - but that figure is just "the tip of the iceberg".

"Drink-driving has reached almost epidemic proportions in this state," he says.

"Despite the millions spent on education campaigns . . . people continue to fill themselves with alcohol and drive a motor vehicle when they know, or suspect, they're over the limit.

"What does it take to get the community to wake up to itself and take some responsibility in assisting the preservation of human life and public safety?"

Mr Henson made these comments as he fined a Sydney movie producer $1200 and disqualified him from driving for 12 months after he was caught behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol level of .105.

Sam Genocchio, 38, was stopped by police at Kings Cross on August 14 after officers saw him "narrowly missing" oncoming cars and pedestrians as he drove with four unrestrained passengers in the back seat.

Genocchio had consumed an "unknown amount of beer" while drinking with former classmates of Sydney Grammar School.

"How many people have to die innocently at the hands of somebody (such as) yourself?" Mr Henson asked Genocchio, who was facing his second drink-driving charge.

"I wish you, and those 20-odd thousand people out there in the community that represent the tip of the iceberg . . . would begin to wake up to themselves before it's too late.

"You live in a world of fantasy and creation, Mr Genocchio. I inhabit the real world, and you are invited to join the rest of the community in that respect."

Referring to Genocchio's work on Mission Impossible 2, Mr Henson said it would be "mission impossible" for the director to avoid a jail sentence if he came back to court on a third drink-driving charge.


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