Sunday, 23 March 2008

Unbelievable response from the AA

This is a follow up to my "sensible question" piece last Thursday in which I lavished praise on Tory MP Robert Goodwill. It was all about the anomaly of a person receiving a driving ban and a prison sentence with at least some part of the ban running coincidentally with the time spent in custody. This piece here elaborates on the story and it is apparent that a lady called Jan Woodward has been campaigning on this issue; I am pleased that Mr Goodwill has brought this matter to the fore.

What has left me gobsmacked is the reaction of the AA to this issue. This is their take on it quoting directly from the BBC News website:
The AA said there was no need for bans to start automatically on release from prison.
A spokesman said: "When you're sentencing someone for a driving offence, you're sentencing someone to a prison sentence and a driving ban at the same time.
"You know they're going to prison, you know for how long, and you can impose the ban to reflect the length of the prison sentence as well as the length of the ban."

Permit me to comment on this load of absolute rubbish:
  • If a person is sent to prison and banned for one and the same offence then it is important from the point of view of the victim or society in general to be satisfied that the offender is punished separately and adequately by the two elements of the judgment
  • The length of the ban should entirely reflect the severity of the crime, the length of sentence is a separate issue that the court decides on
  • Nobody can say with absolute certainty how long a person will stay in prison after being sentenced. The behaviour of the individual whilst 'inside' can affect the release date as can government policy eg current overcrowding in prisons might lead to earlier release than anticipated.
  • Suppose for instance the driver gets a ban but no imprisonment for drunk driving. One month into the ban gets a prison sentence for a totally unrelated offence. Surely for the time that person is in gaol he or she should have the time of the ban suspended.
  • I can't see any obvious logistical problem so far as the courts are concerned in starting the ban after prison release so why not just do it that way.

I don't pretend to be an expert on motoring law but do get annoyed when people like the AA spout the sort of nonsense they have done here.

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