Written by Andrew Tiedt
May 8, 2016
In recent years the NSW Local Courts have had a particular focus on people who commit Drink Driving acts with children in their car. The entire judicial system has long frowned on people who put not only their own lives at risk, but also the lives of their children, by driving a vehicle with alcohol in their system and children in the backseat.
In 2011 the law was amended so that the courts were compelled to regard having children in your car as an aggravating feature while you drove drunk.
This was somewhat redundant in that Magistrates had already done so for years without the legislation formally requiring it.
A story published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10 May 2015 made it clear that Police regard speeding with a young person in your car equally seriously. In this case a P-Plater was alleged to have been driving 150 kph with a baby in the car. She was driving in an 80km/h zone.
This person was charged with Dangerous Driving, Speeding more than 45kms/h over the limit and Street Racing.
The Dangerous Driving charge is a particularly serious charge that not only carries a mandatory minimum one year disqualification, but also carries the very real risk of imprisonment for serious offenders.
The rationale for this law is easy to understand. The issues go beyond simply having put the children’s lives at risk. A person who is intoxicated or speeding is already drastically more likely to have a serious or fatal accident. We all know that another person in the car can be distracting, and a child is even more so. When a person is then either intoxicated or driving in a dangerous manner, there exists a potentially lethal combination of factors.
Notwithstanding this, stories about people driving whilst drunk and with children in the car appear regularly in our newspapers. In fact, some of the highest blood alcohol readings we have seen have occurred when were passengers in the car.
The P-Plater mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald story is due to appear at Blacktown Local Court on 5 April 2016, and, if she pleads guilty, will no doubt be facing heavy penalties for her offences.