The 'Death by....' charges

by STATO   January 28, 2011  

I wanted to open a topic to dicuss the dangerous, careless and death by... cases that are coming up (all too often) in the main topics.

While some comment/discussion is appropriate in the news items i think a seperate topic (away from discussing specific cases) would allow some good discussion without passing comment on the victims of these cases. Please note, lets keep this a discussion and not let it decend into an argument! ;0)

The first topic id like some thoughts on is the 'death by...' charges that are being given; does anyone know how these differ in terms of court-discussion/punishment compared to the normal 'dangerous/careless driving' charges? and what do we think about why are they differentiated?

Also, why are people who are driving dangerously/carelessly treated differently to someone who caused a death, afteral its usually only dumb luck that they dont kill someone!

thanks,
Rich.

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There's a good BBC article here on the differences between DBCD and DBDD, written as the laws were changed:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7178120.stm

more here:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/dangerous_driving/
http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/death_by_dangerous_...
http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sentencing_manual/causing_death_by_ca...

(for some reason the sentencing guidelines for careless driving aren't on there with the others)

http://www.lawontheweb.co.uk/Road_Traffic_Law/Careless_Driving

a bit of light reading then, eh Plain Face

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7169 posts]
28th January 2011 - 15:31

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I would have thought each case is reviewed based on the evidence. When I was knocked off my bike and taken to hospital the attending policeman stated that if I have sustained a broken bone then the driver would be prosecuted for dangerous driving. This probably only amounts to a fixed penalty and a fine but is definitely in the cyclists favour when trying to recover damages under a civil claim.

posted by Old Cranky [276 posts]
28th January 2011 - 15:34

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thanks for those links Dave, this bit in particular...

"But in the past, drivers who caused a death might have found themselves charged with careless driving - which did not take into account that someone had died and only carried a fine."

Sorry to sound callous but what does someone dying have to do with how the person is charged? surely its the action not the outcome that is being challenged, afteral driving carelessly or dangerously poses the risk, the outcome of which is out of control of the driver, ie. person hit may/may not die due to availability of an ambulence, or that old favourite 'he wasnt wearing a helmet'.

Im trying to see it from both sides here, obviously someone dying for any reason is a tragedy, not least if it was caused by someone not driving with due care, but do we consider drivers not paying attention 'but not killing anyone' a lesser crime? do we want bad drivers in prison or just drivers unfortunate enough to kill someone? as it seems to me this is what the law does (or attempts to and regularly fails).

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posted by STATO [409 posts]
28th January 2011 - 16:38

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Quote:
do we consider drivers not paying attention 'but not killing anyone' a lesser crime?

Can't speak for everyone but yes, I do. I'd find it difficult to argue that someone who drove badly and knocked off a cyclist who scuffed themselves up a bit deserves a life ban from driving or a custodial sentence, although I'd like to see longer bans and bigger fines than are currently meted out. I'm always taking issue with people who say that a cyclist 'nearly killed them' or 'nearly ran them down' when that's a subjective conclusion and probably inaccurate. The punishment has to be based on the outcome.

If you drive badly and you kill someone, and you're deemed to be at fault, I don't see why you should be allowed to drive again, ever. It's not a basic human right, it's a privilege that should be bestowed on only those who can do it safely. A 'momentary lapse' can result in a death but basically that's just a bullshit excuse that's trotted out every time a cyclist dies, so far as I can see. Many of the people who have suffered a 'momentary lapse' also have speeding convictions and other motoring offences against their name. Anyway, tough. Your 'momentary lapse' means someone is dead, so you don't get the opportunity to kill anyone else with a vehicle. End of.

Whether or not a driver deserves a custodial sentence would depend on the circumstances in my opinion, starting from the view that they do and not, as currently, that they don't.

Personally I think that the blanket adoption of life driving bans for convicted killers on the road is a better deterrent than time in the clink.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7169 posts]
28th January 2011 - 17:15

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Thanks dave, thats the rub isnt it, many people are making little mistakes and you cant ban someone for being a little careless and bumping into another car, but is that not just being lenient on bad drivers? as you also said...

dave_atkinson wrote:
Many of the people who have suffered a 'momentary lapse' also have speeding convictions and other motoring offences against their name.

Surely if we treated these driving errors as we treat killing someone (as we are always told speed kills) then the person would be off the road sooner and might not have killed someone? infact, that point regularly gets raised in the outcome of court cases involving a death "driver was known to have prior convictions... etc".

I just worry that too much emphesis is placed on 'punishing the killers' when in fact there are plenty of drivers out there who are just as bad and are getting away with it becasue so far (through sheer luck) they have not killed anyone.

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posted by STATO [409 posts]
28th January 2011 - 17:39

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Whilst doing national service in Germany I discovered that a road death was automatically deemed manslaughter, the courts then tried the case. A serving member of my regiment was so convicted of manslaughter. This brought home to the young drivers in the motor platoon the consequences of negligent driving.What mandatory restrictions were placed after release I know not, but such a law here would certainly go a long way to disrupting cavalier driving.

antonio

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posted by antonio [907 posts]
1st February 2011 - 11:49

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The nub of the problem is public attitude to driving.

Before piloting a plane or helicopter, sailing a fishing boat or yacht - or just about any other means of transport for that matter - the pilot/sailor/driver (delete as inappropriate) will:-

1. check the worthiness of his vehicle
2. ensure he has all of the correct safety kit
3. confirm the details of his route
4. check the weather forecast and plan appropriately

When commuting to work in the morning (in a vehicle which could weigh as much as 2 tonnes and travel at speeds over 70 mph) the best we can hope our driver achieves is to have some coffee so he (or she) is fully awake.

Does no-one else see the disparity?

If people actually took these 'minor slips' made while driving seriously, then the whole act would benefit - however even on a cycling forum we are prepared to overlook them.

- Failure to indicate.
- Passing without providing sufficient space.
- Speeding.
- Driving inappropriately for conditions.

These are all 'minor slips' which *do* kill people - they MUST be taken seriously and punished appropriately.

posted by mad_scot_rider [526 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 17:04

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Fact is many motorists regard cyclists as a nuisance that have no right to be on the road. So firstly they drive in a manner that does not allow for the possibility of a cyclist being around the next corner and when they encounter a cyclist give ludicrously little room. I have overtaken cyclists in my car giving huge amounts of room as the opposite carriageway has been clear to permit this. I then have observed the car behind giving barely any room despite an abundance of space. It is pure selfishness and thoughtlessness. In this context near misses and subsequently accidents (sometimes fatal) are inevitable. Until cyclists get rights this will sadly not change. Cyclists need to keep making noise and keep riding to bring about change. The law needs to change before we are all driven off the roads, literally.

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [62 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 17:34

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