A new motoring offence of "Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving" was added to United kingdom law. Anyone found guilty of this offence faces a prison sentence of up to five years as well as disqualification from driving. This particular new law is recognized as to be highly significant. For the first time a person guilty of driving below the standard expected of a reasonably in a position driver which results in an accident and a death can receive a prison sentence.
Prior to this offence the prosecution would need to prove dangerous driving to allow the court to have the choice of a prison sentence. The weight of evidence needed to prove dangerous driving could be considerable. In 2004 there were approximately Three,500 people killed on UK streets and only 406 prosecutions for causing death by dangerous driving. It is estimated that currently only one in ten fatalities caused on UK roads result in a criminal prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving. This is down to the definition of dangerous driving and the degree of bad driving that is needed to be shown to substantiate this type of prosecution.
Many cases will be prosecuted under the new legislation and many will result in prison sentence being imposed, exactly where previously such a sentence was not possible. This particular new legislation will create something of a dilemma for the legal courts however. Should they sentence on the degree of criminality or on the consequences from the offending? Say a driver committed a minor mistake such as failing to observe a cyclist when pulling out of a junction, however this error led to the death of the cyclist. The degree of criminality is low however the results of the offence is high. Should the car owner be sent to prison?
Remarkably the magistrates court have yet to be given any guidance in the brand new magistrates court sentencing guidelines issued on August Fourth 2008 and will consequently have to look to cases of causing death through dangerous driving for any guidance.
Through the years UK courts possess moved towards looking at the consequences of the traveling and away from the criminality or level of driving when considering sentencing, although it is fair to say it is still a balancing act.
The reason the courts have relocated towards taking more account of the outcome is to act as a discouraging factor and was summarized by the then attorney general in 2006 as he said "This court has stated many times that a automobile driven dangerously comes down to a lethal weapon. It can and will kill and that is why custody is almost usually inevitable."
The actual deterrent message is clear and it seems the federal government is reinstating the deterrent message by presenting the new law.
All drivers in the UK should now be aware that the momentary lapse of concentration could result in not only the death of some other but also the imprisonment involving ourselves.
Created by: on October 11th 2013, 23:08.
Last updated by: on October 11th 2013, 23:08.
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