x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Motorists call for long jail sentences after drink-drive killer gets two-month term

Drivers and pedestrians think long jail terms would be a deterrent to potential drink-drivers.

Traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Last year 12 people were killed in the emirate in incidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol. Pawan Singh / The National
Traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Last year 12 people were killed in the emirate in incidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Motorists and pedestrians have called for long jail terms and more awareness campaigns after the drink driver who killed a British tourist received a two months’ sentence.

“If someone causes the death of a pedestrian in a car accident and they have been drinking then the sentence should be tough,” said Abdul Kareem, 42, a management consultant from Lahore, Pakistan.

“That way it would act as a deterrent and make people think twice before they do that.”

Francesca D’Souza, a 32-year-old retail assistant from Lisbon, Portugal, called for a wider awareness campaign about the dangers of drink driving.

“It’s easy to blame the short sentence but I think people in Dubai aren’t willing to take responsibility for their actions,” she said.

“There have been so many occasions when I’ve been driving and I’ve seen other motorists either on the phone or not concentrating on the road.

“The police can’t be everywhere, so I think people in general need to take more care about how they drive.”

Accountant Beth Simpson, 29, from Dorset, England, said more should be done to deter drink driving.

“It’s not simply a case of increasing the sentences and then the problem will go away,” she said.

“Drink driving needs to be made a taboo in this country, otherwise people will continue to do it.

“In the UK, we always have big campaigns warning people about the dangers of drink driving, especially during Christmas.

“That’s been going on for many years and most people now realise that they shouldn’t do that.

“I just don’t think people here realise how dangerous drink-driving can be.”

Others felt judges were in a no-win situation.

David Costa, 45, a HR official from the United States, said: “The problem is what would be a sufficient sentence for a case like this?

“I can’t be sure but I don’t think many countries have very tough sentences for these kinds of cases.

“There are so many people from different countries that live here that many bring their driving habits with them as well.

“What is acceptable driving practice in India would not be in Switzerland or the US.

“That, coupled with the fact that the population is so transient that it would make it difficult to have a consistent campaign, and I think the police and legal authorities have a difficult task.”

Marketing professional Jason Downs, 26, from Burnley, England, said he thinks drink drivers who kill people should be sentenced to at least five years.

“That way less people would be tempted to do something similar in future,” he said.

“Short sentences aren’t enough of a deterrent for people and I think the authorities should take a tough line.

“I think the reason we see so many of these kinds of incidents is because people think they can get away with this kind of behaviour.”

Ron Anderson, 60, a South African biker, said: “Accidents do happen but when alcohol and reckless driving are involved, it doesn’t send a strong message to drivers to dissuade them from drinking.

“They should be held accountable for their actions, with tough sentences.”


* Additional reporting from Preeti Kannan