PCA Begs Minister Scully to Immediately Remove Magistrates’ Discretion in Drink-Drive Cases

Friday 29 August 2003
PCA Begs Minister Scully to Immediately Remove Magistrates’ Discretion in Drink-Drive Cases

(No Discretion in Victoria for drivers convicted over .07 BAC)

The Chairman of the PCA, Mr Harold Scruby, has written Roads Minister Scully, asking him to immediately amend the law so that Magistrates lose their discretion to allow motorists convicted of drink-driving offences to keep their licences.

Mr Scruby said: “It was reported in today’s news that (quote): ‘The Minister for Roads, Carl Scully, led an attack on magistrates who failed to take drink-driving seriously. Last year they let off 5,543 over-the-limit drivers, he said. ‘Thanks for coming, you can go home … I think that’s a bit rich’. Mr Scully said he was concerned that 537 people had been caught last year with a BAC of .15 or higher and were not convicted. He proposed the introduction of sentencing guidelines for those charged with mid-range offences. However, this is likely to meet stiff opposition from the A-G’s office.”

“This just goes to prove that Magistrates cannot be trusted to enforce the law when it comes to drink-driving offences. They do not see drink-driving as a crime, they see it as some sort of social misdemeanour and rarely if ever jail even the worst recidivist drink-drivers, until they kill or seriously injure some innocent victim. Yet alcohol is responsible for up to 40% of the deaths and injuries on our roads. Mr Scruby said.

“In Victoria, Magistrates have no discretion if a driver is convicted at .07% BAC or over. They must impose the statutory penalties including loss of licence for the required time.

“Mr Scully has committed his government to achieving the safest roads in the world by 2010 (see attached). This includes saving 2,000 lives by 2010 and 820 lives by 2005 (just over 16 months away). Yet since late 1999, when this bold initiative was announced, fewer than 30 lives have been saved (see latest fatalities data attached) and we are again likely to exceed 500 deaths on NSW roads in 2003. How can he possibly expect to achive these targets when motorisits convicted of drink-driving do not lose their licences? And the simple message to the community is – DRINK-DRIVE – GET-OFF.

“Drink-driving in NSW is a farce and has been a farce for years; a game of pass-the-parcel between the government and the courts. Sentencing guidelines are a joke. And meanwhile, hundreds of innocent people are dying every year on our roads.
“Please Mr Scully, we beg you, bring some justice and equity back into our courts and immediately remove Magistrates’ discretion for all drink-drive convictions.” Mr Scruby said.

Further information:

Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia - Tel: (02) 9968-4555 (0418) 110-011