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The Forum > Article Comments > Is a drink driving killing murder? > Comments

Is a drink driving killing murder? : Comments

By William Spaul, published 27/4/2012

Drink driving is more than negligence - should it be criminalised?

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Under the present laws of most , if not all , Australian jurisdictions , drink driving leading to death , is not murder because a murder conviction requires an intention to cause death or , at least , grievous bodily harm .

Even the most irresponsible drink driver usually has no intention to cause death or bodily harm . He may be convicted of manslaughter which carries a lengthy prison sentence , even life , if he shows a reckless disregard for human safety .

The fact that Courts do not usually impose maximum sentences is an argument for introducing legislation for minimum mandatory sentences , rather than for changing statutory definitions to convert manslaughter to murder in drink driving cases .

Further , there are a significant number of citizens who habitually drive irresponsibly , even when sober . Should they be convicted of murder if their driving causes death ?
Posted by jaylex, Friday, 27 April 2012 8:57:08 AM
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Dear William,
This was, I thought, a self indulgent argument. I say that because it is mostly about manipulating the symbolism of blame and retribution rather than coming to grips with the problem of reducing road deaths and injuries. May I recommend a thought experiment for you? Let us suppose that your proposal has become law. Now, imagine yourself to be an Australian prison governor. You are in your prison reception centre with a 20 year old who has just arrived after conviction for murder arising out of a drink driving accident. He's an average sort of young man, neither better nor worse than most of his fellows. Except, of course, that he drove while drunk and killed. Now comes the point of the thought experiment. You have to explain to him your programme for the next 60 or so years that he will spend in your prison. Do you have a plan to ensure that he will have a worthwhile life in your prison? Perhaps you don't. Perhaps your plan is to ensure that the remainder of his life will be wasted. But I doubt that you would want that.

Of course - you didn't really mean to suggest that my hypothetical 20 year old should go to prison till he dies. There are quite sufficient qualifications and reservations in your opinion piece to indicate that you were really advocating a sort of 'murder-lite' conviction - a further dilution of the meaning of 'murder' with an infinitely variable sentencing scale.

Why not simply campaign for increased sentences, if you think that will help?
Posted by ASPIRIN, Friday, 27 April 2012 9:09:58 AM
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...I heartily agree with all sentiments in this article of the author. The war on alcohol must intensify in line with the war on tobacco. Both these anti-social killer drugs must be held up to the light of sober reason and consistency in justice and the of law.

...What better place to observe inequality in dealing with the featherbedding which surrounds alcohol abuse, than in the repetitive soft treatment of drunk drivers!

...Only in traffic offences is the alcohol related crime of drink driving (with its consequences), given consideration as an excuse for human failing.
Posted by diver dan, Friday, 27 April 2012 11:11:11 AM
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First step is to get serial offenders off the road never to drive again.
People that rack up multiple fines totaling in the tens of thousands, and still on the roads.
Absolute disregard for the law, is the first step in committing roadway murder.
Drunkards, drugsters, and people with subprime mentality, must to be eliminated from competition of road space.
Posted by 579, Friday, 27 April 2012 11:18:25 AM
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I think drink driving that kills pedestrians cyclists, electric bicyclists, and motorcyclists should be treated as murder because these vulnerable road users deterrent for the following reasons. There 8 other other reasons for such a detterent

1. All road users have a duty of care to avoid colliding with and injuring other road users.
2. A person driving a motor vehicle controls a very large, heavy and potentially dangerous machine capable of great speed dangerous not only to the driver but to others inside and outside the vehicle.
3. A person driving a motor vehicle is greatly influenced by the existing environment inside the vehicle radio, temperature, mobile devices, distractions from passengers and texting.
4. A person driving a motor vehicle is also greatly influenced by the way they perceive the external environment limited visibility due to size of vehicle (SUVs and Commercials), limited visibility due to ambient conditions (weather, lighting, glare etc).
5. A person driving a motor vehicles may not be alert to the presence of small slow moving vehicles (people on bicycles) travelling within their peripheral vision.
6. Drivers of motor vehicles and vulnerable road users both have a legal right to travel on public streets and roads.
7. A person riding a bicycle has good visibility but has very little crumple zone and therefore is much more sensitive to the incursion of a motor vehicles into their operating space.
8. A vulnerable road user can accelerate quickly and or move into the road at speeds that people in motor vehicles sometimes find difficult to estimate.
Posted by PEST, Friday, 27 April 2012 11:33:48 AM
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It has been proven that being tired is far more dangerous than having a few beers.Do we now criminalise being tired or being inattentive ? How about prescription drugs.Do we gaol both the Dr and the patient?
Posted by Arjay, Friday, 27 April 2012 4:10:15 PM
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