Belfast Telegraph

Dad of road victim Enda Dolan angry at rise in Xmas drink-driving arrests

By Victoria Leonard

The father of a Queen's student who was killed by a drunk driver has condemned the rise in arrests during this year's PSNI anti-drink drive operation, with 137 people detected in the first two weeks.

Preliminary figures released by police show that 137 drivers and motorcyclists were arrested on suspicion of drink-driving in the first fortnight of this year's winter campaign.

It represents a rise of five people, or nearly 4%, compared with the first two weeks of the 2016 operation.

Peter Dolan is facing his third Christmas without his son Enda, who was knocked down and killed by drunk driver David Stewart during his first term studying architecture at Queen's University.

Stewart had taken drugs and up to 13 drinks - including six pints of beer and four Jagerbombs - before getting behind the wheel in October 2014.

Stewart was originally sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and the same amount of time on licence, but this was increased on appeal to four-and-a-half years behind bars and the same period on licence.

Since his 18-year-old son's death, Mr Dolan has campaigned for the introduction of tougher sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving.

"It doesn't surprise me that the figures are not getting any better despite all the campaigns that we have had on TV and in the press, some of which are very difficult to watch," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The crux of the matter is there is no deterrent out there for people who are convicted of drinking and driving - they get a bit of a driving ban, and I don't believe that is enough.

"Also, the maximum sentence currently for someone who is convicted of causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years, but as far as I'm aware that has never been used by judges.

"I would like to see the maximum sentence increased to 20 years. England and Wales have already had a sentencing review and are on their way to making that law, and we need to follow suit.

"I believe that if there was a major deterrent out there people wouldn't be as quick to jump in the car and drive under the influence."

Mr Dolan said that Christmas is a particularly hard time, and that it "really hurts" to hear that despite the suffering of bereaved families, the number of arrests for suspected drink-driving continues to rise.

Belfast Telegraph

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