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CPS Guidance on Charging Offences arising from Driving Incidents

Date: (13 May 2013)    |    

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Guidance on the approach of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to road traffic offences was published on Thursday 9th May. The two most significant changes from previous guidance concern public interest considerations relevant to drivers in emergencies and deaths where the victim was a close friend or relative of the driver (close friends and family cases).
Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the guidance was striking the right balance between protecting the public and recognising that there were situations when a prosecution for a driving offence may not be in the public interest. Prosecutors would look into all the facts of a case when making charging decisions.
A driver acting in emergency who took proper care which can be said to be reasonably perceived by the driver the prosecution has to consider;
• Nature of the emergency was responding to a 999 call in compliance with the accepted operating practice in that service,
• the level of culpability of the driver ( including the nature of driving) and
• Whether there was evidence that the driver was continuing to pose danger to others for example such evidence may include relevant convictions or internal disciplinary proceedings against the driver.
When considering the standard of driving and potential defences that may arise, prosecutors are reminded that the test to be applied is the objective test of the competent and careful driver as set out in statute and affirmed in R v Bannister [2009] EWCA Crim 1571.

In guidance for prosecutors considering cases involving close friends and family members (formerly referred to as 'nearest and dearest' cases), although there is a presumption that a prosecution will be in the public interest, prosecutors must balance the particular circumstances of each case with the consequences to the driver, who is likely to have suffered significant personal loss from the bereavement.
Mr Starmer said a driver who makes a genuine mistake that ends the life of a close friend or family member will bear a particularly heavy responsibility.
These factors will be weighed against the driver’s culpability and a driver who continues to pose a danger to others was likely to be prosecuted.
"Following the death of a close friend or family member, it will be presumed that a prosecution is in the public interest, but the emotional trauma suffered by the driver and the consequences of bringing a prosecution for those closest to the victim and driver will be taken into account. These factors will be weighed against the driver's culpability and a driver who continues to pose a danger to others is likely to be prosecuted."
The publication of this guidance follows a public consultation.

 

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