Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham

rehman chishtiRehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, has been given a national road safety award by the charity Brake and Direct Line Group for his work campaigning for tougher penalties for repeat drink drivers.

Rehman launched his campaign after concerns were raised about the high numbers of drivers being caught and the inadequacy of criminal sanctions for those who persistently drink and drive. During one month, in Christmas 2012, more than 220 people were caught over the limit in Kent and Medway.

Working to promote the issue in Parliament, Rehman tabled a Drink Driving (Repeat Offenders) Bill on 3 July 2013. His Bill calls for drivers to receive a prison sentence of up to two years if convicted for a third time or more. Currently the maximum sentence a drink driver can receive (unless they cause a death or serious injury) is six months in prison, no matter how many times they offend. Rehman's Bill received an unopposed first reading, and a second reading of the Bill is scheduled for the 22 November 2013.

Rehman has also discussed the Bill and the issue of drink driving with the road safety minister Stephen Hammond and justice minister Jeremy Wright, and asked for government support.

He has also raised awareness of his campaign in the media, by appearing on BBC's World At One, BBC News, BBC London and BBC Radio Kent to argue for the Bill.

In September, in response to annual figures showing a 17% rise in drink drive deaths, Rehman wrote a passionate letter to The Times arguing the courts need more powers to tackle persistent drink-drivers, which would be addressed by his Bill.

Rehman continues to gather support for his Bill in the run up to the second reading on 22 November and is committed to achieving a change in legislation. He has also offered his support to Brake in its wider work to prevent road deaths and injuries and make streets safer, including his endorsement of national Road Safety Week 2013 (18-24 November).

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "Brake fully endorses Rehman's campaign. Tougher penalties help to deter people from breaking vital safety laws, which is critical in reducing the number of people tragically killed or hurt on our roads. Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on UK roads: it's an abhorrent crime that continues to end and ruin lives daily, and our laws should reflect that. We need to send a strong message that society will not tolerate the dreadful suffering caused by drink driving. We are delighted to recognise Rehman's determined hard work raising awareness and pushing for change on this issue, and will continue to support his efforts until we see a change in the law."

Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham said: "I am honoured to be named as the Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month. Too many people are still being killed or seriously injured on our roads as a result of drinking and driving. To tackle those who persist in drinking and driving, we need to give the courts the additional powers they need.
"This award will help to focus attention on this very important road safety issue and I would like to thank Brake for supporting this campaign."