South Australia’s drink-driving laws need to impose stricter punishments for offenders

South Australia’s drink-driving laws need to impose stricter punishments for offenders

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By Meika Bottrill | @meikabottrill

New South Wales (NSW) has recently enforced their strictest policy on drink-driving offences yet, meaning anyone caught drink-driving will immediately have their license suspended.

Previously, drivers in NSW were able to drive with a ‘low range’ blood alcohol level of 0.05 or below; similar to the laws in South Australia (SA).

Now any driver, regardless of being a first time offender or in the previously classified ‘low-range’ of alcohol consumption, will lose their license for three months and receive a $561 fine.

“This reform makes it clear if you break the law, you will pay the price. We are taking a zero-tolerance approach to drink and drug-driving,” NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said in a press conference.

There is no argument, drink-driving is an extremely difficult problem to solve.​

While tougher laws will not completely stop drink-driving, they play an integral role in discouraging people to get behind the wheel after a night out.

“I can’t help but think there are people walking around our community today, at work, school, you name it, who are going to die this weekend,” Mr Constance said.

Drink-driving kills innocent lives and the implications can affect more than just the driver.

At the end of last year, a boy chose to walk home from his local pub instead of driving, and was hit and killed by a drunk driver who hadn’t made the same sensible choice.

In March this year, a 49-year-old woman died at the scene as a passenger in a fatal crash where the driver was charged with drink-driving.

These people have chosen to do the right thing and yet are still the ones who suffer.

NSW police said that speeding, fatigue, and drink and drug-driving are the biggest killers on the state’s roads.

While NSW has begun to introduce no-tolerance policies, South Australia’s laws regarding drink-driving are significantly less strict.

In South Australia, it is illegal to drive a vehicle if your blood alcohol concentration is over 0.05.

South Australia is one of the few states in Australia that hasn’t introduced double demerit points on public holidays.

SA has, however, introduced an increase in drink-driving and speeding fines across the state.

A person charged with drink-driving in SA will now be charged $743.

“I’ve got no sympathy at all,” the South Australian Treasurer, Rob Lucas, told the ABC.

“This is a voluntary form of taxation; you don’t have to pay driving fines of any size.”

“Many of them should have lost their licence, but they’re getting away with it.

“If you decide you’re going to speed at 30, 40 or 50kph greater than the speed limit, then you deserve to be whacked.”

The term ‘safe drink-driving’ is often thrown around in these types of conversations.

The misconception that we are the best judges of our own cognitive ability is simply not true in these situations.

As most of us drive on a regular basis, it can become easy to forget how difficult operating a vehicle actually is.

Driving requires concentration, rapid reflexes, and good coordination just to name a few.

Alcohol severely affects an individual’s ability to judge speed and distance, impairs our vision and perception, enforces slower reaction times, and reduces our concentration.

“I am renewing our appeal to passengers, regardless of where you are sitting in the vehicle, to call the driver out on their behaviour,” Mr Constance said.

It is our responsibility to ensure we organise safe transport home after a drink, that we offer our friends lifts if they cannot drive and we create a no-tolerance policy to drink-driving.

Think you’re okay to drive? Think again.

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