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Charged with Causing Death by Careless Driving?


Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving

This is a relatively new offence introduced by s20 of the Road Safety Act 2006. Cases are prosecuted under s2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988 both in the Sheriff and High Court depending on the severity of the offence.

A typical charge might read that: an accused drove their vehicle without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users,( the nature or manner of driving would then be described ) whereby they collided with another vehicle then being driven by AB whereby he was injured and died. CONTRARY to the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 2B

For a conviction to follow:

1.The standard of careless driving has to fall below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.

2.In the case of inconsiderate driving a person is to be regarded as driving without reasonable consideration for other persons only if those persons are inconvenienced in any way.

3. The careless or inconsiderate driving must have caused the death of another.

Sentencing

The Scottish Courts are entitled to seek guidance from the Definitive Guide of the Sentencing Guidelines Council in England and Wales. It serves as a very useful tool to help identify the range of sentences appropriate to the particular circumstances of the case. Before the offence was created all offences regardless of a death being caused were prosecuted under s.3 of The Road Traffic Act, and the fact a death occurred was not a feature of the case that was often reflected in the sentence, particularly for cases involving a momentary loss of attention.

Now however these offences, because of the occurrence of a death, are considered to be much more serious.
In a case prosecuted before a jury the maximum sentence is 5 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum disqualification of 12 months. The court also has the discretion to impose a condition to re-sit a driving test.

Some of the factors to be taken into account to mitigate the offence and therefore to reduce the sentence are:

1.The lower the degree of carelessness involved, the lesser the sentence will be.

2.The nature and extent of any personal circumstances of the accused such as a good driving record, and if assistance was given by the accused at the scene.

3. Remorse shown by the accused.

4. Where the accused suffered serious injury.

5. Contributory negligence of the victim or a third party to the commission of the offence.

6. Where the driving was in response to a proven and genuine emergency falling short of a defence.

On the other hand the sentence is likely to be greater if what are known as aggravating features exist, such as:

1. Other offences committed at the same time such as driving without a licence or without insurance.

2. Previous convictions for motoring offences.

3.Where more than one person was killed or another was seriously injured.

4. Where the accused displayed irresponsible behaviour following the offence such as failing to stop or falsely claiming that a victim was responsible.

These are some of the factors to be weighed in the balance by the court but they are not exhaustive.

It is important to seek legal advice and representation at a very early stage in order that important evidence can be preserved to support a defence or strong mitigating circumstances.


Click on link below to view an example of a ‘Death by Careless Driving’ case:

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