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‘As culpable as the person behind the wheel’: Push for passengers in cars with drink drivers to face jail time

A New South Wales victims of crime advocate is pushing for passengers who knowingly get into cars with drink drivers to face up to seven years in jail.

The call comes after a horrible Sydney crash which killed four children.

Alleged drink driver Samuel William Davidson ploughed his car into the children, who were walking and riding bikes along a footpath, last Saturday. He allegedly returned a blood alcohol reading of three times the legal limit.

Now, Howard Brown, Member of the NSW Victims Advisor Board and NSW Sentencing Council, wants tougher prosecution of passengers who get into cars with drunks.

“We actually have a section in the Crimes Act here in NSW which talks about accessory before the fact, and I want to see that adopted in relation to serious motor vehicle accidents where death or serious injury occurs,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“When people are sitting in the car, knowing that you are drunk and knowing that you are incapable of driving, it’s no different to them being an accessory in an armed hold-up.”

Mr Brown acknowledged it will be hard to prove passengers knew a driver was drunk prior to getting into a vehicle, but it’s not impossible.

“If you get into a car with a drunk driver, knowing that person is drunk and they are incapable, then you are just as culpable as the person behind the wheel,” he said.

“I interpret that as encouraging the driver to continue in his recalcitrant ways. That is a huge issue.

“There has to be some level of liability.”

Currently, in NSW, accessory law attracts a maximum penalty of five years in jail, but Mr Brown said he’d like to see that increased to seven years.

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Image: Srinrat Wuttichaikitcharoen / EyeEm