Further Edit: The Regulations which amend the Road Safety (Driver) Regs to make this trial scheme operate are now in effect. You can see them here. The terminology repeat speeders seems to be what they are going with.
The trial runs from last month until the end of 2011.
Edit: On 14 May the Sentencing Advisory Council released this press release. It said in part:
Professor Arie Freiberg, Chair of the Sentencing Advisory Council said, “Victoria’s prison population is growing steadily. More people are going to gaol and for longer periods. However, there are some cases where immediate imprisonment is not the most appropriate option. The Council believes the reason courts are not decreasing their use of suspended sentences in line with Parliament’s direction in such cases is because they do not have adequate sanctions to take the place of suspended sentences.”
Legislation has been introduced to Parliament broadening the scope of home detention orders. There is now talk in the newspaper of some kind of ‘super-ICO’. (Details are sketchy, but perhaps a part-time imprisonment program). Suspended sentences will be phased out over time, beginning with the most serious offences and the coming down the scale. The proposals being talked about now do not touch the Magistrates’ Court.
Over time the number of suspended sentences will decline. It is more likely that they will be replaced with offender programs in the community than with immediate imprisonment.
On the subject of licence suspensions and mandatory imprisonment (see the post on Licence suspensions, above) I haven’t heard much about further reform to the system since posting on the topic last year. It became a political football for a couple of days at the start of 2010, but the story died off without reaching a resolution.
The government seem to have decided to get rid of the mandatory imprisonment that follows a second disqualified or suspended offence, but haven’t finalised what to replace it with. If suspended sentences were removed as a sentencing option before this happened, the government has expressed concern that ordinary mums and dads would be serving actual terms of imprisonment for offences under s 30.
Something I saw on VicRoads’ website might point the way to where the system is going. This article annouced that devices are to be fitted to the vehicles of 60 repeat offenders that warns them when they are travelling in excess of the speed limit. This sort of technology is standard in new cars. More significantly, the device used in this project records these breaches of the speed limit and the action which the driver took after receiving the warning.
This sort of thing has been commercially available for a long time and is sometimes mandatory in trucks and semi-trailers. Alcohol interlocks have received a generally positive response since their introduction. It’s probably only a matter of time before recidivist speeders are required to apply for their licences back, have monitoring devices fitted to their cars, and return to court to explain the results, in the same way that drink-drivers do today.