I spoke to a chap today who has been accused of a drink driving offence. He denies it, but that's not really important because this post isn't about him or his case.
Like many people I meet dealing with drink driving offences at The London Drink Driving Solicitor this chap faces losing his driving licence and with it his job and so not being able to afford his mortgage. Understandably, he's very worried about feeding his family if he loses his job and cannot pay the bills.
Now, many people take the attitude that he has brought the punishment on himself and I can understand why people would take this view. But, is taking people out of work and making them and their families reliant on the state for their accommodation and food really the best way for us to deal with this offence?
It's just a suggestion, but why not change the drink driving law so that it no longer carries an obligatory driving ban but instead has a sentencing guideline that starts with everybody being banned from driving, but allows the court to chose not to disqualify where the magistrates believes that the likelihood of further offences is low and they consider that the offender could be better punished with another sentence, such as unpaid work. The court could also impose a probationary period on the offender during which any driving offence (or any one of a list of offences that the Secretary of State deems serious enough) would result in an immediate driving ban.
The chap today was hopeful that he could undertake 800-hours of unpaid work in the community and pay a significant fine to avoid the driving ban and why not if there's little chance of further offences? He can't, of course, because a) the law requires that he is banned if convicted; and b) the maximum unpaid work hours is currently 300.
There are clearly some people who are a menace to others and who should not be allowed near a car; however, many of the people I meet are middle-aged, working and have never been in trouble before. Many of these people can safely be allowed to continue driving.