Residents demand tougher penalties for drink drivers
By ZOE SINCLAIRzoe@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
GLADSTONE residents want repeat drink driving offenders locked up, but the courts disagree.
The Observer records show most drink drivers, even repeat offenders or those with readings four times the limit, are penalised only with fines and disqualification periods.
Two drink drivers who faced court in May this year with breath alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 0.230 and 0.217 were fined $1600 and $1700. They were disqualified for 16 and 14 months respectively.
An Observer poll conducted over the weekend showed 93 per cent of residents believed repeat drink driving offenders should be jailed.
One resident summed up the majority's opinion ? 'let the punishment actually equal the crime and it's potential outcome'.
Residents like Jenny Grother were recently shocked by the sentence handed down to Brenda Millar reported in The Observer on Wednesday.
'The penalty handed down to Brenda Miller was appalling,' Ms Grother said.
'At least if people as intoxicated as she were in jail, she and every other road user would be safe.'
Time and time again respondents, like Vicki Nunn, referred to the possibility of drink drivers causing death or injury on the road.
'It's not like they're just hurting just themselves ? they can hurt or kill passengers in their car as well as other drivers on the road,' Ms Nunn said.
'Like drug traffickers ? they're making a choice that places themselves and other people in danger.
'These idiots use their cars as weapons.
'Very few people involved in serious accidents escape permanently unharmed.'
But what the court decides and what residents want, vary greatly.
A man facing his fourth drink driving charge in three years escaped jail in Gladstone Magistrates Court this year.
He faced court on charges of driving disqualified twice and with a BAC reading of 0.154. Added to the seriousness of the case was his extended history of drink driving.
The man was sentenced to nine months jail wholly suspended for three years and his licence was disqualified for two years.
Gladstone residents called for police to be given greater powers to deal with drink drivers, such as taking their keys, impounding their cars and even jailing them upon being caught.