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Campaign for drink-drivers to have licences suspended before conviction
The family of an Otley teenager who was killed by a drink driver have been given fresh hope that their fight to change the law could succeed.
Karen Strong and her teenage daughter, Rebecca Still, got the chance to put their case to Justice Minister Crispin Blunt in London on Tuesday.
The pair have been campaigning to get the law toughened, so that anyone charged with causing death by dangerous or careless driving has their licence suspended as a bail condition, since the death of Miss Strong’s son, Jamie Still, in 2010.
Jamie was hit by a driver, Max McRae of Arthington, who was almost twice over the alcohol limit and who was eventually jailed for four years.
But McRae was allowed to continue driving for eight months after the accident until he went to trial – something that has caused Jamie’s family huge distress.
Speaking after this week’s meeting, Ms Strong said: “It was pleasing that the Minister was sympathetic and understanding of our campaign, and particularly pleasing to hear that the issue is on the agenda and that the Director of Public Prosecutions will be opening up a consultation on this in the autumn.”
She also expressed her gratitude to MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) for arranging the meeting.
Mr Mulholland, who has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to back the law change and tabled a Parliamentary motion on the issue, said: “The meeting was a good opportunity for Jamie’s family to put across to the Minister what they had been through following his tragic and unnecessary death on New Year’s Eve, 2010.
“The Minister made clear that the family’s campaign had been noted and is being listened to, which is very encouraging. This is now firmly on the political agenda.
“What is crucial is to prevent other families from facing the same agony Jamie’s family faced, with Jamie’s killer being allowed to continue driving for eight months afterwards.
“Those who have been charged with death by dangerous or careless driving should have their driving licence suspended as a condition of bail, and I hope that by working with the family and the Ministry of Justice we can achieve this.”
The family would like the law to be toughened even further, and on the campaign website they have set up Rebecca states that “anyone charged with drinking and driving should immediately have their licence removed”.
A petition she started, linked to the website at www.jamiestillcampaign.
co.uk, calls for “zero tolerance” for drink drivers and has so far attracted 5,533 signatures.