I live between Jindera and Lavington in the Shire of Greater Hume. Recently a neighbour was caught by Albury Highway Patrol police for driving with a high-range prescribed concentration of alcohol.
This person was seriously affected; couldn't walk, could hardly put a sentence together. Yet decided it was OK to drive in this state and was driving on roads that I use everyday to convey my family around. Roads that my wife rides her horse on. Roads that are being developed and on which new houses are being built.
This person pleaded guilty to the charge of high-range prescribed concentration of alcohol at Albury Local Court recently. The police facts tendered as evidence to the court were appalling. His driving described as “dangerous, swerving across centre lines, accident going somewhere to happen”.
This person freely admitted to arresting police, to driving in a similar condition every week for 20 years and nothing had happened.
The person had no convictions, was represented in court by a lawyer and had references from the community, including the clergy, about their good character. And the penalty imposed by the court? A 12-month bond. That's it. No fine. No disqualification period. No interlock device.
If I get caught going a few kilometres over the limit and go through a speed camera, I can expect a whopping fine and demerit points. If this person was caught in Victoria, they would be facing the lot. Confiscation of car, disqualification period, massive fine and when they did reapply for a licence, an interlock device on the car for a long period of time.
NSW needs mandatory sentencing the same as Victoria. We are constantly bombarded by the “Towards Zero” campaign in the media and yet we continue to see these types of penalties being metered out at our local court. It's a joke.
Here's an idea to make it fair. Your fine for PCA is your reading with a zero on the end. So say you go 0.050. Your fine would be $500 and three months disqualification. Second offence, no matter how old the first offence was, double it again – $1000 and six months disqualification – and so on. A high reading like 0.165 first offence is a fine of $1650 etc.
All PCA offenders, following conviction, should have to get an interlock device on the vehicles they drive. If there is no deterrent for committing offences, the offences will continue. And so will the road toll.
Oh, and to my neighbour, I know who you are, and I am watching, shame, shame, shame, to you too. Remember, “evil prevails, if good people do nothing”.
Danny Bowden, NSW Police Highway Patrol (retired)
Get rid of loophole
I was just reading that 20,000 prisoners in Victoria are getting government benefits in jail, with some even using false names and details.
This frightens me greatly because when the federal government doesn't know someone is in jail it indicates they know nothing and about other people either, like terrorists etc.
If it is so easy to use a false name and get government benefits how easy is it for terrorists to use a false name and kill Australians.
If the government is so incompetent with little things like this how can we trust our national security to them and Labor's policies would make it worse.