OPINION: No shame in naming and shaming drink/drug drivers
IN THE past year the backlash to controversial stories in the paper and a constant deluge of different opinions has thickened my skin.
However, it wasn't until I wrote a court story about a man who was caught driving drunk - three times the legal limit to be exact - that I was left truly stunned by the inundation of negative feedback for simply reporting on a matter in open court.
All because the man who put the lives of the public in danger by getting into the driver's seat while drunk had been an Australia Day award recipient and contributing member of the community.
While I have no doubt this offender is an asset to St George, this should never excuse the fact he made an incredibly foolish and dangerous decision that night he decided to drive under the influence of alcohol.
We're less than three months into 2020 and have already seen a shocking amount of grief inflicted on innocent families because community members made that same decision to drive drunk.
Regardless of who the person is, what they have done and what role they play in our society - if they make the choice to put the lives of others in danger by drink driving, then they can wear the consequences of having their day in court appear in an article.
I have no doubt that the particular offender we reported on is fully aware of his poor decision and regrets it. However, as an individual and as a paper, we think it is important to create a further deterrent so that future drug and drink drivers may rethink their decision.
We cannot set a dangerous precedent that if you are an upstanding member of the community and choose to make the decision to drink or drug drive and put people's lives of the line you will be exempt from our court reports.
Quite frankly I don't care if you are the Prime Minister or an offender who has committed their fifth DUI in the last year, if you decide to get behind the wheel under the influence of liquor or drugs, you deserve to have your name publicised.
Only until recently has the Balonne Beacon been able to dedicate a reporter to cover St George Magistrates Court, so this may be the first time in a while you have seen these sort of reports in our pages, but you can expect plenty more to come,
If you don't want everyone to know you have put the lives of other motorists at severe risk through irresponsible behaviour, then don't drink or drug drive. It's a simple as that.