Gympie Magistrate Chris Callaghan.
Gympie Magistrate Chris Callaghan.

Gympie Magistrate criticises mandatory sentencing rule

GYMPIE Magistrate Chris Callaghan has criticised mandatory sentencing laws after he was forced to disqualify a drunk driver for three months - even though the man had been off the road since committing his offence.

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Scott Anthony Baker, 37, was caught speeding in Gympie on April 18 and returned a subsequent blood alcohol reading of .118.

Baker pleaded guilty to one charge of driving over the middle alcohol limit in the Gympie Magistrates Court on Thursday and copped a three-month driving ban as a result.

But he said he had been told by police not to drive until his day in court, meaning he had not been driving since his offence date.

Mr Callaghan said that was a "shame", because he could not deduct the mandatory minimum three-month sentence set out in the legislation.

"That's the trouble with mandatory sentencing rules. I'm stuck, I've got to sentence you to a disqualification minimum of three months," Mr Callaghan told him.

"If you'd served three months' jail until now I could declare that as time served, but I can't declare it as disqualification served. The legislation doesn't allow it. At this point, perhaps it should. I think it should."

Mr Callaghan said further delays to court proceedings brought on by the coronavirus pandemic compounded the issue.

Baker avoided a fine on top of the disqualification, which he still must serve in full.

Gympie Times

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