Dad ‘furious’ at drunk driver’s fine
What should have been a fun night of celebration for a Queensland family turned into a nightmare after a single, stupid decision made by a drunk driver.
In April this year, Townsville man Andrew Bennett was taking his two children to meet up with the rest of the family to celebrate his partner's 40th birthday.
They were to meet the group and go tenpin bowling as a family, but they never made it.
Mr Bennett was driving through an intersection with his 17-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son in the car when a drunk driver ran a red light and smashed into them.
"I was just driving along and he hit me going through the intersection - he didn't even brake," the 41-year-old said.
"My daughter managed to get one word out before he hit us. She said 'look' and then the car just spun."
The driver of the other car, Raymond Stubbs, admitted to police at the scene that he was drunk and had consumed a whole bottle of Port since lunch.
He was taken to the Townsville Hospital where he returned a blood alcohol result of 0.207, more than four times the legal limit.
In court, Stubbs pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and driving through a red traffic arrow.
As a result, he was fined $1691 and was disqualified from driving for 13 months.
But Mr Bennet said his modest punishment was nothing compared to what he and his family suffered.
"I was absolutely furious, not only because of the impact on my children and myself mentally and physically, but the damage to my vehicle," he said. "All because someone chose to drink piss all day.
"We are living with the fallout from his stupid actions of drinking and driving, yet he basically continues as normal."
Just three weeks before the crash, his daughter had been released from hospital after spending six months there for leukaemia.
Afterwards she was taken to hospital for a check-up but was lucky to have sustained no injuries.
Mr Bennett suffered whiplash from the crash, which caused him to wake up one morning after the incident unable to move his head.
However the tradesman said it was the flow-on effects after the crash that had the most impact on him and his family.
"The flow on effects of that crash have been pretty big. Two weeks earlier I'd resigned from my long-term role and I was due to start a new job the Monday coming. But because of that crash, I couldn't start for at least a month after the accident," Mr Bennett said.
"Even then, I could only work minimum hours. The bloke who employed me was good, but my income was really hurt because of that drink driver. It's still hard. I have four kids to look after."
Shine Lawyers Solicitor, James Leggo, said his client is lucky to be able to share his story as the crash "could've easily been deadly".
"The amount of alcohol content in the offender's blood was 0.207 per cent - an extraordinary amount," Mr Leggo said.
"The offender went through the court process and was fined a relatively small amount, and life continues as normal for him.
"But for Andrew Bennett, he's still dealing with loss of income, physical and mental trauma all because the offender decided to drink and drive. He will never be the same again."
Mr Bennett said he was forced to cash-in his long service leave so he could afford to support his family following the crash.
He said the incident "rattled" him and turned him from a confident driver to being extremely anxious on the road.
Despite the massive impact the crash has had on Mr Bennett and his family, he claims Stubbs still hasn't apologised.
"I'm still angry about it. Not once has Stubbs apologised. Not once has he asked if the kids were okay," he said.
With Christmas coming up, Mr Bennett urged anyone planning on travelling during this period to take extra precaution on the road.
"If you're going to drink, you need a plan B to get home. Otherwise the hurt you cause other people, not just yourself, is huge," he said,
"If anyone is thinking about drink driving over the holidays, they really need to take a bloody long hard look in the mirror. You wouldn't want a drink driver to hit your family, so don't drink and drive and risk hitting someone else's family."