Dangerous drivers who kill a loved one could avoid prosecution

Dangerous drivers who kill a loved one could avoid prosecution

Drivers who accidentally cause death by dangerous driving by changing the radio station or using a mobile phone at the time of the crash could avoid prosecution according to one of the country's top prosecutors.

Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has told prosecutors to consider the "greater emotional impact" felt by a motorist who kills a relative or close personal friend.
It would be the first time the emotional grief of an offender is the reason for not charging them.

Other considerations would include parents who cause accidents while rushing to a hospital with a sick child, while police and other 999 crews would potentially not be charged if they are responding to a legitimate emergency.

AA President Edmund King welcomed the move and told The Telegraph: "If a genuine mistake has been made by a driver which leads to the death of a family member, they will have to live with that guilt and remorse for the rest of their lives.

"If the guidance is managed with sensitivity it will result in a common-sense approach to crime and punishment.

"The consequences of close family loss can be much more traumatic and longer-lasting than a prison sentence."

The current guidance stresses that the presumption is to prosecute when there is a fatality but in cases of genuine mistakes or "momentary lapses of attention" it may not be appropriate to prosecute.

Examples of less serious offences include tuning the radio while driving, failing to look properly at a junction or motorists mistakenly thinking they were insured to drive.

But if the driver was guilty of more serious offending such as prolonged dangerous driving or was over the drink drive limit then a prosecution would follow.

This "common-sense" approach was highlighted last month when teenager Benjamin Humphrey, whose driving killed his friend, was given a suspended sentence after a court accepted he was consumed with remorse.

The 19-year-old, from Surrey, admitted causing the death of James Smith by careless driving after taking a corner too fast and leaving the road.
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