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Should a person who drives in a dangerous way and kills someone go to gaol?
This is a question that many are asking after a minibus driver was said to be responsible for a death of another person after the minibus collided with a commercial van.
There are two main categories of offences that are laid in respect of people who have caused either the serious injury or death of another person: Negligent or Dangerous Driving.
Negligent Driving is defined as driving in a manner that is below the standard of “the degree of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise in the circumstances,” whilst Dangerous Driving is more focused on whether the driving in question is, objectively speaking, dangerous.
Naturally Dangerous Driving is usually far more objectively serious, to the point where a person convicted of Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death can usually expect to spend years in prison.
Such matters are incredibly difficult for a sentencing judge or magistrate. The offenders are, by and large, good and upstanding members of society. They usually do not have a criminal record, and in most cases (whether we are talking about Negligent or Dangerous Driving), they have committed a single, isolated act that in 99% of cases would have had no negative consequence whatsoever.
Moreover, as often as not the victim is someone known to the alleged perpetrator. It is difficult indeed to punish a husband who is responsible for the death of his wife, or someone who will have to spend the rest of their life dealing with the fact that they killed their best friend.
The biggest difficulty, however is that the court is fundamentally called to punish the result rather than the act – a challenging task indeed.
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