All posts by Robert Bimpson
As with a large number of other motoring offences, the penalties to be imposed for using a mobile phone whilst driving are set to increase in the near future.
A recently published report by the RAC has discovered a rapid increase in the number of drivers using the mobile phone by way of talking, texting, Facebook and filming whilst driving a motor vehicle.
Scientific study has found that driving whilst using a mobile phone is as potentially dangerous as drink-driving with regard to the cause of fatal accidents.
The fines are set to increase but most importantly, the number of penalty points to be endorsed upon the driving licence will also increase.
For the driver of a car the points will increase from 3 to 4. If driving an HGV whilst using a mobile phone, the number of points will rise to 6. This will undoubtedly lead to a rapid rise in the number of drivers facing a possible six-month driving disqualification under the totting up provisions when the number of penalty points on the driving licence reaches 12.
The real risk is, however, that if a serious accident is caused whilst a motorist is using a mobile phone, they will not be prosecuted for the mobile phone offence but for careless or dangerous driving. Recently publicised cases involving fatalities caused by a driver whilst using the mobile phone have resulted in prosecutions for causing death by dangerous driving. As per my recent blog on this, the government is also planning to seriously increase the penalties for the offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death by dangerous driving.
Drivers who face a prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving
could face more onerous penalties by way of extended prison sentences if found guilty. This was following a recent sentence review announced by the Prime Minister.
The Ministry of Justice is reviewing the law in relation to causing death by dangerous driving and, in particular, the penalties to be handed out.
At the moment, the offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries a minimum prison sentence of one year and disqualification from driving for at least two years. Following conviction of a motorist a court can hand out prison sentences of up to 14 years. It is unusual for such a lengthy prison sentence to be imposed. The average prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is just below five years. This has been steadily increasing over the last few years.
The proposed increase in penalties for causing death by dangerous driving demonstrates how essential it is to have a specialist traffic lawyer representing the motorist at court. This is a highly specialised and technical field. Given the potential outcomes, motorist would be well advised to seek the services of a specialist traffic defence lawyer. Any one time we have we are representing a number of motorists charged with the offence of causing death by dangerous driving
and are highly experienced in this field.
Fortunately this decision comes from the lawcourts in America but one wonders whether it could one day have any relevance in this country?
Two men who sent a text to a friend while she was driving could be held partially responsible for the death of the man she knocked over. A judge has ruled that both men could face charges if it can be proved that they knew the driver was at the wheel when they sent text messages to her. The driver knocked a motorcyclist from his bike whilst driving, causing injuries from which he died. The driver was using her mobile phone at the time of the accident. The family for the deceased have called for the friends who were sending the text is to be held partially responsible for causing death by dangerous driving
It is highly unlikely that aperson not even physically present within the car at the time of a fatal accident could be held responsible for causing death by dangerous driving. Not only would they have to prove that the texter knew the driver was in the car but also that they would read the text whilst driving. It is interesting that in many states in America, staff who serve alcohol to patrons that they know will then drive home do get a partial responsibility if there is a road traffic accident and there is a prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving. In that case there is a clear link between serving the alcohol and the accident, only if the staff are aware that the person intends to drive having been over the drink drive limit.
The police commissioners in England and Wales are demanding that the legal drink drive limit be cut by as much as 1/3 despite the government recently ruling this out.
Police commissioners have demanded that the legal drink drive limit across England and Wales should be brought into line with that in Scotland. Motorists should be aware of this because it is possible that a single alcoholic drink could put a motorist over the drink drive limit resulting in a police prosecution and driving disqualification. The basis of the reduction in the legal limit is that it would improve road safety.
Drink drive experts including forensic scientists and accident reconstruction experts are almost unanimous in their belief that a reduction in the drink drive limit would improve road safety.
At the moment there are two different drink drive limits, one for Scotland and one for England and Wales. England has the highest legal drink drive limit in Europe. The legal drink driving limit in blood is 80 MG of alcohol per 100 ML of blood. In Scotland this has been cut to 50 MG. It is worthy of note that the legal limit imposed in England has been in existence for 50 years. When it was introduced vehicles would travel significantly slower and the number of vehicles on the road would have been less than half that there is now.
In any event, if the limit is reduced, it is a safe prediction that the number of motorists prosecuted by the police for driving with excess alcohol and thereby facing a driving ban would, in the short term at least, undoubtedly rise very quickly.
The number of motorists facing prosecution for a charge of drink driving
is set to massively increase if the Government reduces the drink drive limit in England and Wales. This would mean a motorist could be over the drink drive limit and face a prosecution for driving with excess alcohol after consuming a single pint of beer or glass of wine.
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