A new car offence of "Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving" was added to United kingdom law. Anyone convicted of this offence faces a prison sentence of up to five years and or disqualification from driving. This new law is recognized as to be highly significant. The very first time a person guilty of driving below the standard anticipated of a reasonably in a position driver which results in any sort of accident and a death will get 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 proof needed to prove dangerous driving could be considerable. In 2004 there were approximately 3,500 people wiped out on UK roads and only 406 prosecutions for causing death through dangerous driving. It is estimated that currently only one in ten fatalities caused on United kingdom roads result in a criminal prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving. This is right down to the definition of dangerous driving and the level of bad driving that is required to be shown to substantiate such a prosecution.
Many cases will be prosecuted underneath the new legislation and many will result in prison phrase being imposed, where previously such a sentence was not possible. This new legislation will create something of the dilemma for the legal courts however. Should they sentence on the degree of criminality or on the consequences of the offending? Say a driver committed a minor error such as failing to notice a cyclist whenever pulling out of a junction, however this error resulted in the death of the cyclist. The degree of criminality is actually low however the results of the offence is actually high. Should the driver be sent to prison?
Remarkably the magistrates court have yet to be given any kind of guidance in the brand new magistrates court sentencing guidelines issued on August Fourth 2008 and will consequently have to look to installments of causing death through dangerous driving for any guidance.
Through the years UK courts possess moved towards exploring the consequences of the driving and away from the criminality or even level of driving when it comes to sentencing, although it is reasonable to say it is still a balancing act.
The reason the courts have relocated towards taking much more account of the outcome is to act as a deterrent and was summarized by the then lawyer general in 2006 as he said "This court has said many times that a vehicle driven dangerously comes down to a lethal tool. It can and does kill and that is the reason why custody is almost usually inevitable."
The deterrent message is apparent and it seems the government is reinstating the discouraging factor message by introducing the new law.
Just about all drivers in the UK ought to now be aware that the momentary lapse of concentration could result in not just the death of some other but also the imprisonment of ourselves.