Sunday Mail - Sunday 26 November, 2006

Repeat offences up

By Elissa Lawrence
Repeat offences up

Elissa Lawrence

THE number of motorists caught drink-driving more than once has hit record levels on Queensland roads, prompting demands for repeat offenders to be permanently stripped of their vehicles and licences.

New police figures obtained by The Sunday Mail reveal a shocking 40 per cent surge in the number of repeat drink-driving offences since 2003.

With the busy Christmas holiday period still to come, 1255 repeat drink-driving cases have been recorded this year to November 10 up from 1041 for the whole of last year, 939 in 2004 and 888 in 2003.

New laws before State Parliament will toughen penalties for repeat drink-drivers. Their vehicles will be confiscated for 48 hours for two offences inside three years, or for three months for a further offence.

But the families of those killed by repeat drink-drivers say the laws don't go far enough and have demanded anyone caught drink-driving more than once be banned for good from driving or owning a car.

"The man who killed our daughter can re-apply for his licence again in two years it's just not acceptable. He should never be allowed to drive again," said Don Webb, 76, who lost his daughter Denise in a crash caused by a repeat drink-driver in December 2004.

The three-vehicle crash, on a clear section of road at Bellenden Ker, north of Innisfail, killed Denise, 46, and partner Trevor Woods, 45, who were riding a motorcycle, and left six-year-old Alex Calcagno with permanent brain damage.

Townsville man James Paul Roddom, 34, was drunk when he crashed into the back of the Calcagno family's stationary utility, pushing it into the path of the motorbike.

This month, Roddom was sentenced to five years' jail for causing the crash, but the judge said Roddom's good character and remorse made him eligible for parole in two years.

Ian Calcagno, Alex's father, told The Sunday Mail: "These people should lose their licence for ever.

"We were disgusted when we found out he was a repeat offender.

"He's a repeat offender and he has killed people he should never get his licence back. They've got to be tougher to try to stop this."

In October 2003, Anthony John Wayne Keymes, 24, was killed by drunk driver Jason Joseph Bottom, who was more than four times over the .05 legal limit.

Bottom ploughed his four-wheel drive into Mr Keymes, who was a pedestrian on the Nicklin Way on the Sunshine Coast. It was Bottom's third drink-driving offence.

Keymes' mother Tina Johnson, 53, of Battery Hill on the Sunshine Coast, said she supported zero tolerance on drink-driving.

"If they are stupid enough to get behind a wheel when they have been drinking, they should automatically lose their licence," she said.

"Take their cars off them and make them think about what they have done. They shouldn't get a second opportunity. It's just a joke. There is no justice. We need tougher penalties."

Grieving parent Virginia Geddes, who lost her teenage daughters Daina and Casey Owens when they were struck by a drink-driver in Mackay in 2003, agreed the laws for repeat offenders needed to be toughened.

"Don't let them drive, we need to make people stop and think," she said. "We've got to stop them just going out and doing the same thing."

Daina, 15, Casey, 18, and their friend Alan Bates, 15, were killed when struck by a four-wheel drive driven by Robert Alistair Frost, who was almost five times over the legal limit.

After being charged, Frost was caught drink-driving and speeding in separate incidents less than seven months later.

Mrs Geddes, 47, of Mt Jukes, north of Mackay, said: "The law needs to be a whole lot tougher. Frost had repeat offences after he killed our children.

"He just went out there and did the same thing. But it's a life sentence for me. He should never get his licence back."

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