Tougher stance on drug and alcohol-related violence
The Senate today adopted a bill by Minister van der Steur (Security and Justice) improving the approach to violence committed by persons under influence of drugs or alcohol and allowing for tougher sentences to be imposed on perpetrators. The new regulations will enter into force in stages from 1 January 2017.
Suspects of a violent crime can expect to undergo heavier sentences if a so-called substance examination proves that they have been guilty of misconduct while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The outcome of the examination is in such a case taken into account in the demand of the Public Prosecution Service and the sentence imposed by the court.
As official police reports do not by default state whether a suspect was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, at present, the courts usually do not know whether the suspect committed the violence while under influence and, thus, cannot take this into account when determining the sentence. The examination improves on the existing practice. It becomes easier to establish the amount of alcohol and drugs a suspect had taken. Another plus is that sanctions may be imposed as part of a suspended sentence to counter recidivism and addiction. An example of such a sanction would be an alcohol ban.
The substance examination will not be performed only in case someone is suspected of having committed a violent crime, like abuse, public violence and sex crimes, but also in case of a suspicion of them having committed vandalism. In addition, there need to be indications that the violent crime was committed while the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means that the police may not perform the examination by default for each violent crime.