Causing death of another
Causing death of another can occur by:
- Dangerous driving;
- Careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs;
- Careless or inconsiderate driving;
- Unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured driving.
The offence of careless driving can be committed where the driving falls below the standards to be expected of a competent and careful driver.
The offence of inconsiderate driving is a separate offence whereby an inconvenience must be caused to another road user. This is defined as having been committed where a person drives without reasonable consideration for other persons who are inconvenienced by his or her driving.
The test again is whether the driving falls below that which would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
In both instances the driving must have led to the death of another. Some examples of careless driving are:
- Turning into the path of another vehicle;
- Driving too close to another vehicle (tailgating);
- Eating or drinking whilst driving;
- Travelling through a red traffic light.
Some examples of inconsiderate driving include:
- Unnecessarily beeping at other road users;
- Startling other users by flashing lights at them;
- Unnecessarily hogging one lane of the motorway;
- Unnecessarily braking whilst driving.
Whilst most offences of dangerous driving will be easier to categorise, as the manner of the driving will be so bad as to be obvious to other road users that it creates an obvious risk, it is often far more difficult to categorise whether an offence has been committed for careless driving and hence causing death by careless driving.
The standard of driving must just merely fall below that which would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
The offence of causing death by careless driving is one that can be tried either in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.
The maximum penalty for the offence in the Crown Court is five years imprisonment with a mandatory period of disqualification of twelve months.
The Magistrates’ powers are limited to a maximum of six months imprisonment.
The decision whether the matter should be dealt with at the Magistrates or the Crown Court will ultimately lie with the Magistrates when looking at the sentencing guidelines. However, the factors to be taken into consideration will include whether the offence came close to dangerous driving and, at the lower end, if it was just a momentary loss of concentration.
Where there has been a fatality as a result of driving, the prosecution will often rely upon expert evidence in the form of reconstruction evidence to try and gauge what took place prior to the fatal accident and, indeed, what caused it.
We at Berri’s Law have worked closely over many years with some of the best experts within the field of reconstruction work and, if you are charged with the offence of causing death by careless driving, would endeavour to ensure that we cover all potential defences.
Other potential defences that may be available include consideration of whether:
- there existed any mechanical defects with your motor vehicle,
- you are suffering with any mental conditions that may have contributed to the offence
- the offence was not in fact committed as the manner of your driving did not fall below that which would be required from a competent and careful driver.
We at Berri’s Law have often liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service in matters where the fatal accident involved close friends or, indeed, family. One of the considerations that the Crown Prosecution Service has to consider is whether it is in the public interest to prosecute in these circumstances.
We would convey to the prosecuting authority the fact that this type of accident is likely to have a detrimental and devastating effect upon the driver of the motor vehicle and that the person would have suffered significant personal loss from the bereavement.
Therefore, in some circumstances the Crown Prosecution Service will accept that it may be inappropriate to prosecute.
This is likely to be the case where there has been a minor error of judgement or, indeed, a genuine mistake on the part of the driver.
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