amit - Tess Scheflan - October 14 2009
Judge Isaac Amit at a swearing in ceremony in Jerusalem, October 14, 2009. Photo by Tess Scheflan
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Sentences for vehicular manslaughter under the influence of alcohol average between 2.5 to nine years, according to research done earlier this year by the Supreme Court.

The wide sentencing range discovered by Justice Isaac Amit was linked to whether additional crimes were committed, such as whether the driver had fled the scene.

Based on these findings by Amit, the High Court earlier this year reduced the sentence of Shai Simon, who was convicted in the 2008 hit-and-run death of Meital Aharonson, from 20 years to 14. The court explained its move by saying that the original sentence by the Tel Aviv District Court had exceeded the prevailing standard of punishment.

These were among the precedents that Central District Court Judge Zecharia Caspi referenced as he considered how to sentence Tal Mor for the hit-and-run death of cyclist Shneor Cheshin in June 2010. Caspi sentenced Mor on Sunday to 12 years in prison.

Last month, Caspi sentenced motorcyclist Avihai Welt to eight years' imprisonment for causing the death of his passenger, Aliza Goldberg, when he struck a car while speeding. Welt was also driving without a license - which had been suspended for a previous offense - and without insurance. Neither alcohol or drugs was apparently involved.

Caspi described the sentence at the time as "the basis for a tough crackdown on car accidents."

Last year, meanwhile, the Supreme Court refused to reduce the seven-year sentence of Elisha Levi, who had been convicted of the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist while under the influence of heroine and methadone.

Attorney Eilon Oron, who represents many traffic violators, believes that Mor's sentence was in keeping with the trend toward harsher sentences for such crimes.

Just two weeks ago, he noted, the Supreme Court had rejected an appeal to reduce the 16-year sentence of his client, Yaron Bracha, who was convicted in 2007 of killing his brother and five Egged workers in a collision he caused while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Oron said that in cases that receive a lot of media coverage, judges tend to issue harsher sentences.

Prof. Yoram Rabin, the dean of the College of Management's law school, said he didn't think meting out harsher penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident would reduce this phenomenon.

"I think punishments like suspended sentences and fines would actually be more of a deterrent," Rabin said. "Still, I think that we have to crack down on these types of crimes, not for deterrence purposes, but because the punishment must reflect the severity of the crime."