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AIBU to think someone who has killed while drink driving should be tried for murder/manslaughter?

(118 Posts)
ihatesoftplay Tue 16-Jun-15 15:10:00

My friend was killed by a drink driver just over 18 months ago and he (the driver) was sentenced to 6.5 years in jail and banned from driving for 10 yesterday. "Driving dangerously at excessive speed and causing death."

He murdered her, using his car as a weapon. I cannot see the justice in this sentence.

I appreciate my emotions may be clouding my view, so I probably am BU, but I'm interested in your thoughts...

SurlyCue Tue 16-Jun-15 15:12:06

I agree. I lost my cousin to a drink driver some years ago. The driver got 7 years, was out after 4. It didnt seem right at all.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 16-Jun-15 15:15:28

I'm terribly sorry for your loss. flowers. Also not sure if AIBU is the place for such an emotional post. Are you going to be OK if people disagree?

FWIW I don't agree. If it were my friend, I'd want the driver strung up but that's not how the Courts work. Murder needs much more than reckless, irresponsible stupidity. Manslaughter possibly.

However, a lawyer I know said, and I find it hard to disagree, that if you drink/drive killing someone is ALWAYS a strong possibility and unless you are going to prosecute everyone who drinks and drives for attempted murder or similar, there is an issue. I do think drinking and driving should be a permanent ban and removal of the vehicle.

Pagwatch Tue 16-Jun-15 15:17:23

Most of the laws relating to driving - 'drunk driving, using your phone , excessive speed in built up areas- are treated way too leniently.

My 30 year old cousin lived alone, in pain with physical difficulties and mental health problems. He has lived his whole life ime that after a dickhead ploughed into the car his mum was driving when he was a bright, healthy toddler. Fuckhead got a fine.
His life continued just dandy.

ihatesoftplay Tue 16-Jun-15 15:21:25

Sorry for your loss Surly flowers

Yes MrsTerryPratchett, I'm fine - we were friends but not very very close, if that makes sense? I am quite happy for people to disagree with me! Your point (or rather the lawyer's point) about charging anyone with attempted murder if they're caught drink driving is a good one - but maybe they should be tried? Would it deter more people from doing it in the first place? If yes, I'm not sure that it'd be a bad thing...

loveulotslikejellytots Tue 16-Jun-15 15:23:28

No it's not fair.

There should be a total ban on drinking and driving. None of this, you can have a half a lager or a small wine and be ok. Everyone reacts differently to different amounts of alcohol. I can have 3 pints of beer and feel fine (not saying I would ever even contemplate getting in a car) but one glass of wine makes me feel very lightheaded and 'tipsy'.

It should carry a heavier sentence. If you decide after having a few drinks to get into a car, you need to accept the consequences.

MNpostingbot Tue 16-Jun-15 15:27:36

Sorry for your loss.

Manslaughter yes, murder no.
What I recall of what law modules I did suggested that he had to go out with a premeditated desire to kill your friend. He didn't, he willingly got behind the wheel knowing he was a risk to kill someone, but he didn't set out to do it.

Completely agree that it should be manslaughter rather than death by dangerous driving, but likely the sentence would have been the same.

I know it won't make this tragedy any better for you and their family, but 6.5 years is a higher than average sentence for this crime. I think it should be higher, but plenty have got less than 3 years for similar so some credit is due to the judge, they only apply sentencing guidelines, they don't set them as far as I'm aware

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 16-Jun-15 15:27:50

I see people every day on their phones, leaving the golf club pissed a little random on the road. The Police must see them too. I bet a fair chunk of the Police play golf too and know practically every one of the rich white men there are drinking after a round. I NEVER see a stop then. What I see is the Police hassling homeless people, ticketing people for littering or jaywalking (Canada).

I think the issue would be solved by coming down quite heavy BEFORE someone is killed.

On another note, I think quite a lot of drink driving is actually problem drinkers and alcoholics. If we could sort out treatment/services for that, it would go some way.

ihatesoftplay Tue 16-Jun-15 15:30:55

Yes MrsTerryPratchett, I agree with all of that.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 16-Jun-15 15:31:37

I agree manslaughter yes, murder no. It's stupid and reckless but there's no premeditation of killing someone.

And I guess manslaughter may even have ended up with a similar sentence. So maybe it's best for the CPS to bring charges for the crime which has the best chance of a guilty verdict.

ihatesoftplay Tue 16-Jun-15 15:33:20

Absolutely loveyoulots - I live in Scotland and the laws here have changed and you cannot have a drink now as the limit is so low. It makes me wonder why they didn't just go for zero tolerance?!

Thanks for your thoughts MNpostingbot - I had originally written only murder in my post, but added manslaughter as an afterthought because of the intent thing.

ihatesoftplay Tue 16-Jun-15 15:34:56

Cross post Viva, as above. smile

Interesting that the sentence is about the same as a manslaughter sentence. Still seems incredibly lenient.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 16-Jun-15 15:35:20

I think people produce small amounts of alcohol naturally. There's also alcohol in weird things like OJ and vanilla so it would be hard to have a zero. Near as dammit to zero would do the job, though.

paddlenorapaddle Tue 16-Jun-15 15:38:08

I agree someone killed a close relative like this on a while on a mobile phone, got a suspended sentence. He disabled someone else at the same time far to lenient in my opinion!

NRomanoff Tue 16-Jun-15 15:41:10

The limit should be so low you can't have one. Also yes it should manslaughter. I can't agree with it being murder as there has to have been premeditation or intent to kill.

Although to me, if you drink/text etched while driving there is a high chance of killing someone. So intent could possibly be argued but it would be very difficult.

SallyMcgally Tue 16-Jun-15 15:41:28

My DH thinks that everyone taking their driving test should be made to sign a document stating that if they kill someone when drink-driving they understand that this is manslaughter.
In the student riots in 2010 a 17 year old boy flung a fire extinguisher from a third floor roof. Mercifully it didn't hit or injure/ kill anyone, but he got sentenced to three years because of his recklessness. For the life of me I cannot understand why it's not just as reckless to get behind the wheel of a car knowing that you've had too much to drink.

LurkingHusband Tue 16-Jun-15 15:41:35

The Home Office does vast research into sentencing policy. And one thing they have found is for certain offences - including most motoring ones - the stiffer the sentence, the harder to get a conviction.

(This, incidentally, is why Parliament abolished the death penalty. There was growing concern that a jury would acquit rather than sentence to death [it's what I would do]. Which is why there was a radical overhaul of the murder laws in the 1950s - Royal Commission etc. Even then, people were uneasy - hence the eventual abolition).

From what I have read over the years, whatever they may say on MN, when they get into the jury box, most people remember they are drivers, and when they hear the facts of the case have a "there but for the Grace of God" moment.

However, surely anyone found guilty of causing a death by driving should lose their license forever ?

IceBeing Tue 16-Jun-15 15:43:02

I would like to see the real crime be drink driving itself. There is no difference in culpability between someone who gets behind the wheel drunk and makes it home and someone who kills someone on the way.

Everyone caught drunk behind the wheel should be charged with attempted manslaughter or something.

That would stop people thinking that it won't happen to them....or that they made it home last week fine so they may as well do it again etc.

OrangeVase Tue 16-Jun-15 15:43:19

Just for balance, white men are not the only ones who drink and drive.

MNpostingbot Tue 16-Jun-15 15:44:47

Sweeping generalisation on golf clubs and rich white men up there.

Undoubtedly there are a few, but probably no more so than at any licensed premise. In my experience 50%+ of drinks sold at golf clubs are non alcoholic anyway and you almost always see cars left overnight by those who have a quick one turn into a quick five and get a taxi back. It's too easy a generalisation to say "old white rich men"

Probably true that the older generation are worse because they grew up in a world where drink driving wasn't frowned upon, but I'd put a decent amount of money that the majority of deaths caused by drink driving are by youngsters who can't afford a taxi or are taking harder drugs than some old boy having 3 pints of bitter before winding his way down a 1 mile country drive home.

Not condoning the latter, but suggesting the police stop conspiring with golfers to solve the problem is a step too far!

Sadly, alcohol is a 40 billion pound industry in the UK and there are 35 million cars on our roads, both of those figures are increasing fast and as a result there will always be drunk driving, regardless of what steps are taken, Human nature exists and often it's stupid and inconsiderate.

ihatesoftplay Tue 16-Jun-15 15:46:21

That's interesting Lurking, thank you for posting. Also agree that the license should be gone forever.

Sally I agree with your DH and with you, Ice.

expatinscotland Tue 16-Jun-15 15:46:45

I think there should be a total ban on any sort of drink whilst driving and a mandatory jail sentence and permanent loss of license for drink driving and drug driving, too.

I also agree the sentences should be much, much longer if you kill or injure someone whilst driving drunk/intoxicated/drug driving.

MrsCaptainReynolds Tue 16-Jun-15 15:48:43

This guy only lost his license for five years:

www.shetnews.co.uk/news/10873-man-jailed-for-six-years-after-tragic-road-death

I agree with the "there but for the grace of god" thing for drivers, certainly I've had one or two scary moments (cyclists appearing from nowhere) and thought how easily I could unwittingly become a "murderer"...but I really don't have the same feeling about drink drivers. There's just no excuse. No secret has been made if the fact that alcohol impairs your driving ability.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Tue 16-Jun-15 15:53:26

If death by dangerous driving and manslaughter have comparable sentences then surely it's logical to keep them separate - particularly as I imagine the burden of proof is lower for causing death by dangerous driving.

It also helps with data accuracy to have specific convictions for vehicle related offences which sounds pedantic but can have large impacts on funding for crime prevention.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 16-Jun-15 15:53:42

The rich white men is not about whether they drink and rive more. It's the fact that there is NEVER a stop near the club. Except once when I was stopped near there, very late at night after the club was closed. Bear in mind I live in Canada where there are still massive issues with racism in the Police, where the older generation routinely drinks and drives, and where there are more deaths per vehicle, mile and person than the UK.

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