TOMS LAW – MPs DEBATE POSSIBLE INTRODUCTION OF INSTANT DRIVING BAN
Tragically, in 2019 Tom McConnachie (34) was killed after being hit by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol. Whilst the man responsible for causing his death was eventually jailed and disqualified from driving, he was able to continue driving for a period of 11 months before that disqualification was imposed. Since then, and in his memory, Tom’s family have been campaigning for the introduction of swifter powers for police to disqualify drivers pending a court appearance.
At the present time it is entirely common that drivers can be stopped on suspicion of drink driving, found to provide a breath reading in excess of the legal limit, but still permitted to drive, perhaps for many weeks or even months, pending their appearance and eventual disqualification at Court.
Due to the significant support that the family received to their online petition, a debate was held in Parliament on 10th January 2022 whereby it was set out precisely what the family are hoping to achieve in Tom’s memory;
‘currently, as it stands, people are still potentially allowed to drive until a court bans them. So with Tom’s Law we want it to be that as soon as that offender fails that test, they can’t drive until they attend court. Then it’s up to the Courts to decide if the ban continues or if they can have their licence back.’
Whilst the Police do currently have the power to impose bail conditions upon people who are pending a court appearance, and, whilst it may be possible for those powers to be utilised in connection with imposing restrictions on a person’s ability to drive, they do not presently seem to be used very often, if at all.
There is a balance to be struck regarding the rights of an unconvicted party who is pending a Court appearance and the presumption of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Nevertheless, it will no doubt be a concern to people that someone facing a serious driving offence committed under the influence, and who is highly likely to be pleading guilty, or found guilty, may retain their licence for a lengthy period pending a Court appearance.
Following the Parliamentary debate, the transport minister has confirmed that her department will consider the present legal position and assess whether changes should be made.