A 47-year-old man’s 18th drink-driving conviction has sparked calls for a radical law change that would allow judges to sentence the worst offenders to preventive detention – effectively locking them up for life.
Preventive detention is a step too far, but I certainly agree that there should be a threshold at which recidivist drink drivers start to get automatic imprisonment terms.
Darren Corey Newport, 47, has now racked up 18 convictions for driving over the limit – two of them in back-to-back drink-driving episodes this year alone.
Newport joins four other men who each have 18 drink-driving convictions, sharing the dubious title of New Zealand’s worst drink drivers. Newport is the youngest of the bunch.
The scary thing is he has probably driven drunk over 1,000 times. You only get checked around one in 100 times when out driving. To have 18 convictions, you must have driven drunk almost every week for a decade.
Statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that while the number of people convicted of drink driving has fallen in the past three years from 27,518 to 23,377, the number of repeat offenders has remained virtually unchanged.
I think once a drink driver is onto say their fourth or fifth conviction, then jail should be basically automatic and increasing. The recidivist drink drivers (who are no doubt alcoholics) need to know that if they jump in a car drunk, then they will be in jail for years, not months. It may be hard for them to stop drinking, but it is not hard to decide not to drive home.