THERE has been plenty of discussion involving the high-level sportswoman who had her drink-driving case discharged. She was not convicted and granted permanent name suppression on a drink-driving charge, in part because it would affect her ability to compete overseas. Does this country really need this type of behaviour from our role models?
In light of all the work being done nationally to change attitudes towards driving drunk, this comes as a slap in the face.
The real question here is: What separates sports people from everyone else? The conviction would mean this sportswoman was not able to compete overseas, but is that of enough importance to waiver the conviction?
What are our young people expected to think about this mixed message? Should they believe there is one law for the elite and another law for all others? Has sport become so crucial to our national identity that we are prepared to overlook this reckless behaviour?
This case could have been an example to our youth, showing our legal system does not favour any groups or individuals when it comes to driving drunk. The penalties are well-known and the potential consequences can be disastrous.
How about other people who rely on their licences for their employment, such as truck drivers? Should they be given the same level of protection and anonymity if caught drink-driving? Of course not and the law has made this clear.
There may well be other outstanding factors concerning the judge's decision that are not available and may have weighed in favour of his decision. However, one of the fundamental expectations enshrined in New Zealand is equality under the law and this decision appears to undermine those values.
Sadly, when I looked up this story on the internet, the first site that was listed is a law firm that details its strategies to help you "get off" your drink-driving conviction.
The website mentions myriad legal technicalities that may enable its legal team to "get you off the hook". Something is very wrong and maybe this recent decision shows how far as a nation New Zealanders need to grow.