Alf has enormous sympathy for the bloke who is saying it’s time to crush drink-drivers’ cars.
The oldest son of a mother-of-five who was killed by a woman fleeing a police check point makes his call for harsher measures in the HoS today.
Bradley Phillips said last night he was frustrated by the Government’s eagerness to crush boy racers’ vehicles, while letting drink-drivers keep theirs.
His mother, Penelope Rae Phillips, 52, died in Blenheim on Friday night after a 20-year-old woman smashed into her car.
The woman had been stopped at a police checkpoint 400m away. Police said she blew a positive result then sped away.
Officers scrambled to pursue, but the woman struck the white Nissan Penelope Phillips was driving. She died at the scene.
Phillips is absolutely right to press Transport Minister Steven Joyce to come down harder on drink-drivers.
“Boy racers lose their licence for six months and now they’ve brought it in that they lose their vehicles. What happens to a drunk driver who gets caught three or four or five times? Not a lot.
“If it’s all right to crush boy racers’ cars, how about the same applies to a drink-driver who is using the car as a weapon?”
Inevitably, this sort of thing is seized on by them Labour layabouts who had 10 years to do what they now say should be done.
Labour’s law and order spokesman Clayton Cosgrove is saying offenders’ cars should be seized and sold for parts, with the proceeds paying court or victims’ costs.
“Take the car from them permanently so they can’t repeat these sort of tragedies. Do it so the victim’s family and other innocent taxpayers don’t have to pay for courts costs.”
Transport Minister Stephen Joyce – alas – doesn’t have the same political savvy on law-and-order issues as the admirable Crusher Collins, and probably doesn’t have her balls, either. He would not be interviewed on the issue.
A statement from his office said the Government was preparing to release new drink-driving laws. Nothing more.
Alf reckons he could persuade Collins – but probably not Joyce – to go further than is being demanded by the anti-drink-driving lobby.
He wouldn’t bother simply crushing the cars of the offenders or taking their licences from them – they will simply get another car and will drive regardless of whether they have a licence.
The only way to stop serial drunk drivers is to ensure they are firmly strapped behind the wheel when their cars are sent to the crusher.
A good candidate for this treatment is featured in a report in the Sunday Star-Times today.
The report is about a bloke described as one of New Zealand’s worst repeat drink-drivers.
He has just chalked up his 40th driving conviction, 14 of them for drink-driving.
This shameful track record shows contempt for our drink driving laws and the justice system.
Richard Steven Rowe, 46, of the Bay of Plenty, is in custody awaiting sentencing in April for his latest drink-driving conviction. He faces up to two years’ jail and disqualification from driving for more than a year.
But lobbyists say that’s not enough – it’s time Rowe was off the road for good.
Rowe, from a place called Waimana near Whakatane, reportedly was picked up in Hamilton last month with a breath alcohol level of 1039 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath – 2 1/2 times over the limit.
The bugger was on home detention for a drink-driving conviction incurred last year.
Alf is right behind the CrossRoads lobby group, part of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, which wants Rowe taken off the road permanently.
Spokeswoman Ursula Keogh says Rowe is a typical recidivist drink-driver who has continually demonstrated he is a peril to other road users.
“Allowing him to drive is playing Russian roulette with the lives of innocent people,” she said.
Auckland lawyer Patrick Winkler said recidivist drink drivers could be “indefinitely” disqualified from driving if convicted of drink-driving in the previous five years and recorded a breath alcohol reading of above 1000mcg, or refused a blood test.
Offenders disqualified indefinitely can regain their licence by completing an alcohol rehabilitation course and re-sitting the test.
The Star-Times lists some other repeat-offenders.
A fellow from Milton, in the South Island, appeared in Alexandra District Court in January with more than 30 previous driving convictions.
A bloke in Tauranga was jailed in February last year after his 17th drink-drive conviction and sixth driving-while-disqualified charge.
Then there’s a bloke in Wellington who has 34 driving convictions, including 11 for drink-driving.
The newspaper mentions the government’s recent announcement of a new 10-year road safety strategy that includes introducing a zero alcohol limit for a period after a drink-drive conviction and a plan to lower the adult drink-drive limit from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams.
Cabinet will decide next month.
Keogh called the strategy a “victory for prevention”. A zero breath-alcohol limit for second-time offenders and increased penalties for drink drivers who killed were effective and targeted measures that would reduce the destruction caused by recidivist offenders, she said.
But Alf is not so sure. He reckons these measures won’t keep serial drunk drivers off the road.
The Star-Times says of Rowe –
It is believed his other 26 convictions are largely for driving while disqualified.
Taking his licence off him, in other words, will do absolutely nothing to stop him getting pissed on some future occasion and then getting behind the wheel.
Locking him up for life would keep him off the road, but would be a big drain on taxpayers.
So forget about life in the cooler and opt for the crusher.
There will be a few sobering (and maybe agonising) moments for the offender and then…
Shazam. An instantly reformed drunk.