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.