Do we need a higher maximum penalty for recidivist drink drivers?

The Herald reports:

He’s thought to be the worst drink-driver in the country, yet there’s little keeping him off the roads.

Brian Mitchell Hart, 58, from Hawkes Bay, has 20 convictions for drink-driving and 11 for driving while disqualified, and has been sent to prison 33 times for these and other offences.

But every time he gets out, he gets his licence back, drinks again and gets back behind the wheel.

He has twice been disqualified from driving “indefinitely”.

On one of those occasions, in 2002, he underwent counselling and treatment for alcohol addiction and after an assessment by a government-approved counsellor, was approved to get his licence back by the New Zealand Transport Authority.

Under the law, the toughest sentence for repeat drink-drivers is indefinite disqualification, which can be imposed only under a specific set of circumstances.

Driving without a licence is obviously of no concern to Mr Hart, as is driving drunk.

I think you need an escalating penalty regime. But the problem is that the maximum sentence is just two years. Maybe we need a law change that says after perhaps your 10th conviction, then the maximum penalty increases by a year for each conviction up to say seven years.

Otherwise how else can you stop him?

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