THE maximum penalty for drivers who kill or seriously injure someone in an accident while speeding or affected by drugs or alcohol in Queensland will quadruple under new laws being considered by the State Government.
The proposed legislation comes after a review into the maximum penalties following the deaths of siblings Sarah, 30, and Daniel Walker, 22, who were killed in a crash north of the Sunshine Coast earlier this year.
The siblings’ close friend, Peter Knowles, and Sarah’s 14-year-old son, Sam, were also both seriously injured.
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The man who caused the crash, Donald George Gayler, 66, was charged with driving without due care and attention.
He walked free from Maryborough Magistrates Court last month with a $3000 fine and a three-month suspension placed on his licence.
Sarah and Daniel’s mother, Kerri Walker, along with Knowles’ mother, Trisha Mabley and Sarah’s fiance Victor Bosley have spent the weeks since fighting for tougher penalties.
Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government had consulted with the Walker family and other families whose loved ones had been killed in crashes before proposing the changes.
“Every life lost on Queensland roads is a tragedy and community concern has been heightened understandably recently following the crash that killed siblings Sarah and Daniel Walker outside Tiaro in April,” Mr Bailey said.
“This was a tragedy which claimed the life of two family members and left two other passengers seriously injured and I extend my sincere sympathies to everyone affected by this crash.”
Under the proposed changes, the maximum penalty for drivers convicted of careless driving causing death or grievous bodily harm (GBH) will double to a $10000 fine and 12 months in jail.
The maximum penalty will quadruple to a $20000 fine and two years in jail where there are circumstances of aggravation, such as drink or drug driving, speeding and driving unlicensed.
Meanwhile, the maximum penalty for drivers convicted of dangerous driving causing death or GBH would remain at 10 years in jail (14 with circumstances of aggravation), but the current six-month licence disqualification period would be extended to 12 months.
The final minimum licence disqualification periods will be determined following further consultation before the Road Safety Bill is introduced to Parliament.
Mr Bailey said the proposed changes were in line with recommendations handed down by the State Coroner as a result of the inquest into the tragic death of Queensland grandmother, Audrey Ann Dow.
The 81-year-old was killed when a disqualified driver drifted across double white lines and smashed head-on into her vehicle in Mackay in July 2013.
The driver of the other vehicle, Aaron Kite, 28, wasn’t even supposed to be behind the wheel. He was fined just $3000 and disqualified from driving for a further three months after being convicted of careless driving.
In his inquest, the State Coroner described Kite’s driving record as “utterly deplorable”, noting the young man had been disqualified from driving a total of four times.
“This government has accepted these recommendations and is progressing legislative amendments for parliamentary consideration,” Mr Bailey said.
“I want to thank Audrey’s family for their campaign to bring change.”