Drunk drivers get shorter sentences: study

Sober drivers who injure another person in traffic often receive longer prison sentences than drunk drivers, according to new research from the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute (Statens väg- och transportforskningsinstitut - VTI).

Researchers have investigated court rulings from 1990 to 2005 involving involuntary manslaughter, wrongful injury, or causing danger to others.

The reason for drunk drivers’ milder punishments is not clear, according to the scientists behind the study.

“But maybe when you’ve been driving under the influence and get into trouble, you get yourself a better lawyer,” said scientist Mohammad-Reza Yahya to newspaper Östgöta Correspondenten.

Drunk drivers are sentenced to prison far more often than sober drivers, but when it comes to severe crimes, the sober drivers often receive longer prison sentences.

The study also shows that more sober than drunk drivers are sentenced to prison if they show gross negligence and kill someone in traffic.

Hitting a person and killing them while sober, and showing ‘gross negligence’ results in one year and three months in prison, according to the study. The same crime for a drunk driver results in about a month less in prison.

“You’d expect a drunk driver to be punished harder. I think those responsible should rethink this,” said Mohammad-Reza Yahya.

The sentences reviewed were of offenders between 18 and 64 years old.

1,995 sentences were reviewed in the study, which showed that of the people sentenced for having killed or hurt someone in traffic, one in five was under the influence of alcohol.

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Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port

UPDATE: A ferry that ran aground next to islands between Finland and Sweden with nearly 430 crew and passengers on board, was refloated and heading for port, its owners said Sunday.

Grounded Finland ferry refloated and heading back to port
The Viking Line ship Grace hit rocks in in the Aland archipelago. Photo AFP

The Viking Line's “Grace” hit rocks on Saturday afternoon while sailing between the Finnish port of Turku and the Swedish capital Stockholm, shortly before a stopover in Mariehamn, in the Aland archipelago, Finland's coast guard said.

The passengers had to spend the night on board, though there was no immediate danger as it was not taking on water. No one was hurt in the incident.

A tug boat helped refloat the ferry in the small hours of Sunday morning, the coast guard said on Twitter.

After disembarking around 260 passengers at Mariehamn, it went on to its home port of Turku in Finland, a Viking Line spokeswoman told AFP Sunday. It would undergo repairs in the coming days, she added.

Although the cause of the accident has yet to be established, the coast guard said there were strong winds in the area at the time.

The company cancelled its Saturday ferry service, which was to have been taken by a smaller vessel, because of a storm warning.

In September, another Viking Line ferry, the Amorella, ran aground on the same Aaland Island and the passengers had to be evacuated.