BBC: Stiffer sentences for drivers who kill

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Guy Chapman, Feb 19, 2003.

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  1. Guy Chapman

    Guy Chapman Guest

    Apologies if this has already been posted, I'm Googling from the City right now and it looks as if
    Google is a bit slow. Anyway,

    <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2777697.stm>

    (note for gentle souls: the uk.tosspot approved response to feeling drowsy is to speed up to keep
    yourself awake).

    Drivers who kill someone because they have fallen asleep at the wheel are likely to spend at least
    two years in jail, under new guidelines. Using a mobile phone should also be thought an "aggravating
    factor" leading to stiff minimum sentences, courts have been told.

    The Sentencing Advisory Panel, which advises judges in England and Wales, said judges should
    consider imprisoning every motorist who causes death by dangerous driving.

    Falling asleep at the wheel - which until now has been considered a mitigating factor - should
    actually make the crime worse and lead to a longer sentence, the panel said.

    2-5 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE RECOMMENDED FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL WHEN THEY
    - Fall asleep
    - Are distracted by a mobile
    - Have drunk too much
    - Have taken drugs
    - Are racing
    - Are showing off
    - Are speeding
    - Disregarded warnings from fellow passengers

    Panel chairman Professor Martin Wasik said: "Drivers do not normally fall asleep without warning.

    "The proper course of action for a motorist who feels drowsy is to stop driving and rest.

    "It should be regarded as an aggravating factor and we recommend should be sentenced with two to
    five years imprisonment."

    Motorists who kill should face a short spell in jail for even a "momentary error of judgment" or a
    short period of bad driving, said the report.

    The sentence should rise to between two and five years if there was an aggravating factor such as
    alcohol, drugs, racing, showing off, excessive speed, disregarding warnings from fellow passengers,
    falling asleep or being distracted by a mobile, it added.

    If there were three or more aggravating features the sentence should rise to between five
    and 10 years.

    At present there is no clear starting point for sentencing this offence, said Professor Wasik.

    THE SELBY TRAGEDY Gary Hart caused the deaths of 10 people in the Selby train crash when he fell
    asleep at the wheel He was jailed for five years The judge compared his actions to drink-driving

    In the year 2000, about 15% of drivers convicted of causing death by dangerous driving actually
    escaped jail.

    "This offence causes particular difficulty for sentencers," he said.

    "On the one hand, an offence involving a person's death is always serious, and understandably leads
    to calls for severe sentences.

    "On the other hand, an offender convicted of this offence did not deliberately cause death or
    serious injury.

    "The standard of the offender's driving at the time of the offence should be the primary factor in
    determining the seriousness of an offence."

    2000 STATISICS 183 people sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving 158 jailed, which meant
    15% escaped jail Average sentence was 3 years and 1 month But many jailed for less than a year Four
    fined; 13 received community sentences; 8 got suspended sentences

    But motoring groups questioned whether mandatory minimum sentences would make any difference.

    "The UK legal system relies on the judiciary, when passing sentence, to take account of all factors
    relating to the offence, the consequences and the offender," said the RAC Foundation.

    "In most cases of causing death by dangerous driving, this already leads to a custodial sentence."

    The RAC Foundations called instead for a new offence of causing death by careless driving, which it
    said should solve any sentencing problems.
     
    Tags:


  2. J-P.S

    J-P.S Guest

    On 19 Feb 2003 06:52:25 -0800, Guy Chapman scrawled: ) THE SELBY TRAGEDY ) Gary Hart caused the
    deaths of 10 people in the Selby train crash when ) he fell asleep at the wheel

    Be warned, all ye crowding for the moral high ground: Private Eye reckon that Gary Hart was very
    much made a scapegoat for the Selby rail disaster, and for the incompetence of rail and safety
    officials. There had been other accidents at the same spot, apparently, and it was a known problem.
    Whether or not it's true, I wouldn't use him as an example when there are plenty of more clear-cut
    cases that never make headline news.

    Otherwise, it's all to the good. I can't believe that falling asleep was a *mitigating* factor
    until now. God.

    J-P
    --
    tests=LINES_OF_YELLING_3,LINES_OF_YELLING_2,LINES_OF_YELLING, FROM_AND_TO_SAME version=2.31
     
  3. >2-5 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE RECOMMENDED FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL WHEN THEY
    >- Fall asleep
    >- Are distracted by a mobile
    >- Have drunk too much
    >- Have taken drugs
    >- Are racing
    >- Are showing off
    >- Are speeding

    No mention of cutting off their goolies then?

    Cheers, helen s ;-)

    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Flush out that intestinal parasite and/or the waste product before sending a reply!

    Any speeliong mistake$ aR the resiult of my cats sitting on the keyboaRRRDdd
    ~~~~~~~~~~
     
  4. In article <[email protected]>, Guy Chapman
    <[email protected]> writes
    >Apologies if this has already been posted, I'm Googling from the City right now and it looks as if
    >Google is a bit slow. Anyway,
    >
    ><http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2777697.stm>
    >
    >(note for gentle souls: the uk.tosspot approved response to feeling drowsy is to speed up to keep
    >yourself awake).
    >
    >Drivers who kill someone because they have fallen asleep at the wheel are likely to spend at least
    >two years in jail, under new guidelines. Using a mobile phone should also be thought an
    >"aggravating factor" leading to stiff minimum sentences, courts have been told.

    My impression is that _everyone_ who speaks to me on a mobile is asleep. Will this double the
    minimum to four years?

    >
    >The Sentencing Advisory Panel, which advises judges in England and Wales, said judges should
    >consider imprisoning every motorist who causes death by dangerous driving.
    >
    >Falling asleep at the wheel - which until now has been considered a mitigating factor

    !!!!! A mitigating factor? No wonder people treat the courts with
    derision

    --
    The Big Baguette
     
  5. In article <[email protected]>, j-p.s
    <[email protected]> writes
    >On 19 Feb 2003 06:52:25 -0800, Guy Chapman scrawled: ) THE SELBY TRAGEDY ) Gary Hart caused the
    >deaths of 10 people in the Selby train crash when ) he fell asleep at the wheel
    >
    >Be warned, all ye crowding for the moral high ground: Private Eye reckon that Gary Hart was very
    >much made a scapegoat for the Selby rail disaster,

    If Hislop says it, it must be true.

    >and for the incompetence of rail and safety officials. There had been other accidents at the same
    >spot, apparently, and it was a known problem. Whether or not it's true, I wouldn't use him as an
    >example when there are plenty of more clear-cut cases that never make headline news.
    >
    >Otherwise, it's all to the good. I can't believe that falling asleep was a *mitigating* factor
    >until now. God.
    >
    >J-P

    --
    The Big Baguette
     
  6. Tony W

    Tony W Guest

    "wafflycathcsdirtycatlitter" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > >
    > >2-5 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE RECOMMENDED FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL WHEN THEY
    > >- Fall asleep
    > >- Are distracted by a mobile
    > >- Have drunk too much
    > >- Have taken drugs
    > >- Are racing
    > >- Are showing off
    > >- Are speeding
    >
    > No mention of cutting off their goolies then?

    I think cutting one's goolies off while driving is certainly covered by 'are showing off' and
    probably by either 'have drunk too much' or 'have taken drugs'.

    If not, they can surely be dome for indecent exposure.

    :)
     
  7. James Hodson

    James Hodson Guest

    On Wed, 19 Feb 2003 15:07:16 +0000 (UTC), "j-p.s" <[email protected]> wrote:

    [SNIP Gary Hart bit, having read it]

    >Otherwise, it's all to the good. I can't believe that falling asleep was a *mitigating* factor
    >until now. God.
    >

    Hi J-P

    I do actually have some sympathy for Gary Hart. I, personally, have real problems controlling my
    sleep. I'm perfectly capable of staying awake and alert for 48 hours at a time. Conversely, I
    sometimes feel extremely tired and fall asleep after only a few hours of wakefulness.

    For me, at least, a decent night's sleep is one where I actually sleep for more than three hours at
    a time or less than 18 in one go - parr for the course in recent years.

    I do not drive, myself, so my own sleep troubles are unlikely to cause any accidents. Moreover, I do
    not cycle when I'm tired.

    Gary Hart's long sentence - over-long, IMO - seems to have partly been based on the fact that he had
    spent many hours in a chat room and not had a decent night's sleep. Had Hart crashed either a few
    hundred years later or sooner I doubt we'd have heard of him. Also, had he ended up on the railway
    line but a train had not hit his vehicle I don't believe any of us would now recall his name.

    OTOH, there's no excuse for using a mobile phone when driving. I'm sure that almost everyone now
    knows that this is illegal. A good mate of mine persists in both phoning out and answering his
    mobile phone when he's driving his car. A different friend absolutely refuses to even leave his
    'phone on when he is in his car. Temptation averted.

    I shall read but probably ignore any comments regarding the contents of my first paragraph unless
    they come from a neurologist.

    James

    --
    A credit limit is NOT a target.
     
  8. Johnny Klunk

    Johnny Klunk Guest

    > 2-5 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE RECOMMENDED FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL WHEN THEY
    > - Fall asleep
    > - Are distracted by a mobile
    > - Have drunk too much
    > - Have taken drugs
    > - Are racing
    > - Are showing off
    > - Are speeding
    > - Disregarded warnings from fellow passengers

    Whats the groups opinion on this? I don't really believe in sending them to jail. It's not going to
    bring the dead back. Sending someone to jail for 5 years will possibly turn them into a criminal,
    punish their innocent family and stretch an over-stretched system. During that time *we're* paying
    for their stay.

    OK, its a good deterrent, but there are better ways than waiting until people are dead. IMHO a
    licence is a privilige, not a right. Yet courts seem to see it the other way around. I'd like to see
    these people removed from the roads much earlier. What if you immediately got a 12 month ban for
    doing more than 15 miles over the limit? Maybe 3 months for talking on a mobile, 12 months for
    writing a text message on a mobile... Harsh, but people would thing twice about these offences (They
    might learn to cycle too!!).

    In Australia they have alot more "Random Breath Testing" where cops will block off certain main
    roads (or backstreets) at night and breath-test every second car that comes through. There's alot of
    it there. Anyone caught even slightly over the limit faces at least 3 months off the road. It
    catches drink drivers, and it stops many others doing it in the first place. It would also means
    that anyone that flouts a driving ban gets caught out when they can't provide a licence (THATS when
    the jail sentence should come along).

    Interested in your thoughts....
     
  9. Guy Chapman

    Guy Chapman Guest

    [email protected] (wafflycathcsdirtycatlitter) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > >2-5 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE RECOMMENDED FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL WHEN THEY

    > No mention of cutting off their goolies then?

    The longest journey begins with but a single step :)
     
  10. Raptorman

    Raptorman Guest

    Stiffer sentences are all well and good but does anyone actually believe that it will have any
    effect at all on the rate of these (fortunately) rare occurances.

    Everyone believes it won't happen to them, it's not like mugging someone which is a concious
    decision, no-one *decides* to commit death by dangerous driving. The only people it's likely to
    affect at all are those who wouldn't dream of doing any of these things in the first place.

    I'm completely unconvinced that stiffer sentences will do anything at all to lower the accident
    statistics (it's incredibly rare for someone to be convicted for DbDD twice - and yes I know it
    happened recently and yes he does deserve everything he got and more) in any way. All I can see it
    doing is filling up our prisons and making those people who seek retribution a little more smug.
    It's addressing the symptom and not the cause.

    It'd be far better to put our efforts towards keeping these drivers (and those likely to follow
    in their footsteps)off the road - for good - rather than putting them in prison for the sake of
    it (clearly some will deserve, although why a 4 year sentence is better than a 2 year one I
    fail to see).

    Russ

    Please note - I've not said anywhere these people should get off scott free - just that stiffer
    sentences don't achieve anything.

    "Guy Chapman" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Apologies if this has already been posted, I'm Googling from the City right now and it looks as if
    > Google is a bit slow. Anyway,
    >
    > <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2777697.stm>
    >
    > (note for gentle souls: the uk.tosspot approved response to feeling drowsy is to speed up to keep
    > yourself awake).
    >
    > Drivers who kill someone because they have fallen asleep at the wheel are likely to spend at least
    > two years in jail, under new guidelines. Using a mobile phone should also be thought an
    > "aggravating factor" leading to stiff minimum sentences, courts have been told.
    >
    > The Sentencing Advisory Panel, which advises judges in England and Wales, said judges should
    > consider imprisoning every motorist who causes death by dangerous driving.
    >
    > Falling asleep at the wheel - which until now has been considered a mitigating factor - should
    > actually make the crime worse and lead to a longer sentence, the panel said.
    >
    > 2-5 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE RECOMMENDED FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL WHEN THEY
    > - Fall asleep
    > - Are distracted by a mobile
    > - Have drunk too much
    > - Have taken drugs
    > - Are racing
    > - Are showing off
    > - Are speeding
    > - Disregarded warnings from fellow passengers
    >
    > Panel chairman Professor Martin Wasik said: "Drivers do not normally fall asleep without warning.
    >
    > "The proper course of action for a motorist who feels drowsy is to stop driving and rest.
    >
    > "It should be regarded as an aggravating factor and we recommend should be sentenced with two to
    > five years imprisonment."
    >
    > Motorists who kill should face a short spell in jail for even a "momentary error of judgment" or a
    > short period of bad driving, said the report.
    >
    > The sentence should rise to between two and five years if there was an aggravating factor such as
    > alcohol, drugs, racing, showing off, excessive speed, disregarding warnings from fellow
    > passengers, falling asleep or being distracted by a mobile, it added.
    >
    > If there were three or more aggravating features the sentence should rise to between five and
    > 10 years.
    >
    > At present there is no clear starting point for sentencing this offence, said Professor Wasik.
    >
    > THE SELBY TRAGEDY Gary Hart caused the deaths of 10 people in the Selby train crash when he fell
    > asleep at the wheel He was jailed for five years The judge compared his actions to drink-driving
    >
    > In the year 2000, about 15% of drivers convicted of causing death by dangerous driving actually
    > escaped jail.
    >
    > "This offence causes particular difficulty for sentencers," he said.
    >
    > "On the one hand, an offence involving a person's death is always serious, and understandably
    > leads to calls for severe sentences.
    >
    > "On the other hand, an offender convicted of this offence did not deliberately cause death or
    > serious injury.
    >
    > "The standard of the offender's driving at the time of the offence should be the primary factor in
    > determining the seriousness of an offence."
    >
    > 2000 STATISICS 183 people sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving 158 jailed, which meant
    > 15% escaped jail Average sentence was 3 years and 1 month But many jailed for less than a year
    > Four fined; 13 received community sentences; 8 got suspended sentences
    >
    > But motoring groups questioned whether mandatory minimum sentences would make any difference.
    >
    > "The UK legal system relies on the judiciary, when passing sentence, to take account of all
    > factors relating to the offence, the consequences and the offender," said the RAC Foundation.
    >
    > "In most cases of causing death by dangerous driving, this already leads to a custodial sentence."
    >
    > The RAC Foundations called instead for a new offence of causing death by careless driving, which
    > it said should solve any sentencing problems.
     
  11. Raptorman

    Raptorman Guest

    "James Hodson" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > OTOH, there's no excuse for using a mobile phone when driving. I'm sure that almost everyone now
    > knows that this is illegal.

    Not yet it's not - Mr Plod still has to prove that by using the phone the driveris driving without
    due care, it's not an automatic inferrence (although it seems to be moving that way).

    Russ
     
  12. Frank

    Frank Guest

    "Johnny Klunk" <[email protected]:rem0ve-this:johnnyklunk.com> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > Whats the groups opinion on this? I don't really believe in sending them to jail. It's not going
    > to bring the dead back. Sending someone to jail
    for
    > 5 years will possibly turn them into a criminal, punish their innocent family and stretch an
    > over-stretched system. During that time *we're* paying for their stay.
    >

    Yep sending people to jail is clearly stupid, however a big publicity release on how bad this
    behaviour is and how people will be sent to jail is not so stupid.

    The rest of your stuff about more bans and more detection seems pretty sensible. I've never
    understood the logic of sending some one to jail to protect us from their driving (at considerable
    cost to the taxpayer) rather than just taking the obvious step of removing their licence.
     
  13. On Wed, 19 Feb 2003 21:02:47 +0000 (UTC), "Johnny Klunk"
    <[email protected]:rem0ve-this:johnnyklunk.com> wrote:

    >
    >> 2-5 YEAR JAIL SENTENCE RECOMMENDED FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL WHEN THEY
    >> - Fall asleep
    >> - Are distracted by a mobile
    >> - Have drunk too much
    >> - Have taken drugs
    >> - Are racing
    >> - Are showing off
    >> - Are speeding
    >> - Disregarded warnings from fellow passengers
    >
    >Whats the groups opinion on this? I don't really believe in sending them to jail. It's not going to
    >bring the dead back. Sending someone to jail for 5 years will possibly turn them into a criminal,
    >punish their innocent family and stretch an over-stretched system. During that time *we're* paying
    >for their stay.

    Remember this would translate to 9mths to 2.5yrs *inside*. 2.5yrs for killing while racing and drunk
    - doesn't seem too harsh at all.

    I agree with posts elesewhere that the real changes are needed at the lower end of the offence
    spectrum. Losing one's license for short periods should be a common occurence for all but the very
    best drivers. It seems ridiculous that you can go through your life 'turning over' points on your
    license but never be told to get out of your car.
     
  14. Johnny Klunk

    Johnny Klunk Guest

  15. Graham Glen

    Graham Glen Guest

    In message <[email protected]>, James Hodson
    <[email protected]> writes
    >OTOH, there's no excuse for using a mobile phone when driving. I'm sure that almost everyone now
    >knows that this is illegal. A good mate of mine persists in both phoning out and answering his
    >mobile phone when he's driving his car. A different friend absolutely refuses to even leave his
    >'phone on when he is in his car. Temptation averted.
    >

    I was cycling along one morning last week and a car belonging to a driving school pulled out of a
    side turning (not dangerously) with the driver talking on his phone. As the driver was the only
    occupant, when he stopped to turn right, I came alongside and tapped on his window and when he wound
    it down I asked him "are you a driving instructor?" - that's all I said. Immediately he said "It's
    not against the law, I am allowed to use my phone, it's in the highway code". I was too nonplussed
    to answer him back!

    Graham
    --
    Graham Glen
     
  16. "Frank" <[email protected]> wrote: ( I've never understood the logic of sending some one to
    jail to ) protect us from their driving (at considerable cost to the taxpayer) rather ( than just
    taking the obvious step of removing their licence.

    Do you have any idea how many people drive without a licence?
     
  17. Ian Walker

    Ian Walker Guest

    On Thu, 20 Feb 2003 00:20:56 -0000, raptorman <[email protected]> wrote:

    >
    > "James Hodson" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    >>
    >> OTOH, there's no excuse for using a mobile phone when driving. I'm sure that almost everyone now
    >> knows that this is illegal.
    >
    > Not yet it's not - Mr Plod still has to prove that by using the phone the driveris driving without
    > due care, it's not an automatic inferrence (although it seems to be moving that way).
    >

    The other day I was waiting at a bus stop and started doing some driver- watching (and incidentally,
    they really don't like being stared at, do they? It's like they think those windscreens are one-way
    mirrors or something). I counted that 1 in 10 solo drivers were on the phone. Now, given that I saw
    1 in 10 on the phone in the few seconds that it took them to pass me, the mind boggles at the
    proportion who might use the phone whilst driving at some stage during the day.

    Ian

    --
    Ian Walker Remove the yummy paste in my address to reply. Homepage: http://www.drianwalker.com
     
  18. Richard

    Richard Guest

    Johnny Klunk wrote:

    > Whats the groups opinion on this? I don't really believe in sending them to jail. It's not going
    > to bring the dead back. Sending someone to jail for 5 years will possibly turn them into a
    > criminal, punish their innocent family and stretch an over-stretched system. During that time
    > *we're* paying for their stay.

    I've always seen a driving licence as not dissimilar to a shotgun licence. What would your view be
    on someone with the latter who, at a clay pidgeon meeting, is drunk/asleep/on the phone with one
    hand, idly swings round with a loaded shotgun, and ends up blowing the head off the guy standing
    beside them? Should they just lose their licence for X months?

    It's been my fairly small experience of clay-pidgeon shooters that such a scenario would be very
    unlikely - they're extremely respectful of the potential lethality of their guns.

    R.
     
  19. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    James Hodson <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > Had Hart crashed either a few hundred years later or sooner I doubt we'd have heard of him.

    Of course not. Either we wouldn't have been born or we'd have been long dead.

    --
    Dave...
     
  20. In article <[email protected]>, dkahn400 @yahoo.co.uk says...
    > James Hodson <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:<[email protected]>...
    >
    > > Had Hart crashed either a few hundred years later or sooner I doubt we'd have heard of him.
    >
    > Of course not. Either we wouldn't have been born or we'd have been long dead.

    And if it had been a few hundred years sooner it would have been at a very low speed. A few hundred
    years later? Who can tell, I expect we'll all be wearing silver suits and cycling around in
    recumbent hover bikes.

    Colin
     
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