Drivers who blew it back behind wheel

North Shore Times

Wednesday 10 March 2004
MORE than half of low-range drink drivers on the North Shore are getting away with it, according to a new report.

Compiled by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the report shows that 52.9 per cent of low range cases at Hornsby Local Court were either conditionally discharged or dismissed in 2002.

More alarmingly, 37.5 per cent of mid-range and almost 10 per cent of high-range drink drivers at Hornsby Local Court also escaped with a conditional discharge or were dismissed.

Conditionally discharged or dismissed means the drink drivers were found guilty, but there was no conviction recorded against them.

Northern Metropolitan Region Police Association executive member Tony Bear said police couldn't comprehend how different courts across NSW had significantly different penalties.

“Highway Patrol and general duties work very hard to bring down the road toll by setting up breath testing and arresting the people who break the law,” he said.

“It makes our members a little disappointed when these people are put before the courts and the offence, which is quite a serious one, is treated by the courts as a trivial matter.

“We can't be everywhere, we're only catching a percentage of those people, it is supposed to be a deterrent.”

Harold Scruby from the Pedestrian Council is urging NSW to remove judge's discretion on drink driving.

“This is a scandal; every year the drink-drive statistics worsen and the government does nothing, while the NSW road toll is out of control and up to 40 per cent of deaths on our roads are due to alcohol,” he said.

“This is not about sentencing guidelines it's about saving lives.

“How must the NSW Police feel, after all their hard and dangerous work to see these criminals thrashed with a feather?

“The simple message to the community is drink-drive, get off.”