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Causing Death by Dangerous Driving

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving

 

There are three levels of “seriousness” used in the guidelines for causing death by dangerous driving which are distinguished predominately by the standard of driving involved. The presence of aggravating factors or combinations of a number of determinants of seriousness will increase the starting point within the range given. If there are a large number of determinants of seriousness and/or aggravating factors, the court may decide to move to the starting point for the next level.

 

Level One

 

The most serious classification which encompasses driving that involves a deliberate disregard for the rules of the road and an apparent disregard for the potential danger posed to others. These offences could be characterised by:

 

  • Prolonged and deliberate instances of bad driving
  • Gross impairment as a result of consuming alcohol or drugs
  • AND / OR

  • A group of determinants of seriousness, which in isolation would place the offence in level two.

 

It is level one offences that may move towards the higher end of sentencing and in the most serious cases an offender can, as of 2017, face life imprisonment particularly if mobile phones or excessive speed play a significant role in the commission of the offence.

 

Level Two

 

These cases involve driving that create a substantial risk of danger and is usually characterised by:

 

  • Greatly excessive speed, racing or competitive driving; or
  • Gross avoidable distraction such as reading or composing text messages over a period of time; or
  • When your ability to drive is impaired as a result of alcohol/drug consumption ; or
  • A group of determinants of seriousness which, in isolation or smaller number would place the offence in level 3

 

Level Three

 

Driving that creates a significant risk of danger and would likely be characterised by:

 

  • Speeding at a speed inappropriate for the present conditions; or
  • Driving when knowingly sleep deprived or knowing that your car has a dangerous defect or is dangerously loaded; or
  • A brief (but obvious) danger arising from a seriously dangerous manoeuver

 

When sentencing, the court should take various things into account in addition to the guidelines above which include a good driving record, assisting at the scene of any accident and remorse. There is an overlap with the starting point as well as the range in Level two which is to allow a certain breadth of discretion to accommodate circumstances where there are significant aggravating factors.

 

Additional aggravating factors

Additional mitigating factors

1. Previous motoring convictions, particularly offences that involve bad driving or the consumption of excessive alcohol or drugs before driving

1. Alcohol or drugs consumed unwittingly

2. More than one person killed

2. Offender was seriously injured in the collision

3. Serious injury to one or more victims, in addition to the death(s)

3. The victim was a close friend or relative

4. Disregard of warnings

4. Actions of the victim or a third party contributed significantly to the likelihood of a collision occurring and/or death resulting

5. Other offences committed at the same time, such as driving other than in accordance with the terms of a valid licence; driving while disqualified; driving without insurance; taking a vehicle without consent; driving a stolen vehicle

5. The offender’s lack of driving experience contributed to the commission of the offence

6. The offender’s irresponsible behaviour such as failing to stop, falsely claiming that one of the victims was responsible for the collision, or trying to throw the victim off the car by swerving in order to escape

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

7. Driving off in an attempt to avoid detection or apprehension

 

 

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