Have you been charged with Culpable Driving Causing Death?
Culpable Driving Causing Death is a very serious charge. It carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
There are a number of issues to consider if you have been charged with this offence.
- Are you not guilty?
- Is a much lesser alternative charge open?
- Whilst driving did you fail to a gross degree, to observe the standard of care which a reasonable person would observe?
- Did your driving lead to the death of another?
- Were you affected by drugs and/or alcohol at the time of the offence?
A person is said to have driven culpably if they drove recklessly, negligently on under the influence of drugs or alcohol to such an extent that they were incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle. To be reckless is to consciously and unjustifiably disregard the risk that the death of another could result from the driving. To be negligent is to fail indefensibly and to a gross degree to observe the standard of care which a reasonable person would have in the circumstances.
Please read below for more information relating to this charge.
Elements of Culpable Driving Causing Death
The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant was driving a motor vehicle; and
- The driving was culpable; and
- The culpable driving caused the death of another person.
The maximum penalty
If found guilty of Culpable Driving Causing Death the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment for 20 years.
Where will my case be heard?
Culpable Driving Causing Death cases will be heard in either the County or Supreme Court.
Questions to consider
- Do you have a defence?
- If you are pleading guilty, what can you do to minimise your sentence?
- How are the prosecution claiming that you were culpable?
- Were you affected by drugs or alcohol to the extent you could not have proper control of the motor vehicle?
- Were you reckless?
- Were you criminally negligent?
- Is an independent crash scene report required?
- Is an independent pathologists report need to be considered?
What to do next?
There is so much that can be done when someone is facing the charge of culpable driving. If charged you will be facing the full prosecutorial weight of the State against you and you need someone in your corner that understands how to fight these types of charges. Defending a culpable driving charge is complicated and not for the inexperienced. If you have been charged you should call Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers and get the very best representation.
Section 318 Culpable driving causing death
(1) Any person who by the culpable driving of a motor vehicle causes the death of another person shall be guilty of an indictable offence and shall be liable to level 3 imprisonment (20 years maximum) or a level 3 fine or both.
An offence against this subsection is a category 2 offence under the Sentencing Act 1991. See section 5(2H) of that Act for the requirement to impose a custodial order for this offence unless the circumstances set out in paragraphs (a) to (e) of that subsection exist.
(1A) The standard sentence for an offence under subsection (1) is 8 years.
See sections 5A and 5B of the Sentencing Act 1991 as to standard sentences.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) a person drives a motor vehicle culpably if he drives the motor vehicle—
(a) recklessly, that is to say, if he consciously and unjustifiably disregards a substantial risk that the death of another person or the infliction of grievous bodily harm upon another person may result from his driving; or
(b) negligently, that is to say, if he fails unjustifiably and to a gross degree to observe the standard of care which a reasonable man would have observed in all the circumstances of the case; or
(c) whilst under the influence of alcohol to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle; or
(d) whilst under the influence of a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle.
(2A) Without limiting subsection (2)(b), negligence within the meaning of that subsection may be established by proving that—
(a) a person drove a motor vehicle when fatigued to such an extent that he or she knew, or ought to have known, that there was an appreciable risk of him or her falling asleep while driving or of losing control of the vehicle; and
(b) by so driving the motor vehicle the person failed unjustifiably and to a gross degree to observe the standard of care which a reasonable person would have observed in all the circumstances of the case.
(3) An indictment for an indictable offence under this section shall specify which form of culpability within the meaning of subsection (2) is charged but evidence of the whole of the circumstances shall be admissible on the trial on the indictment.
(4) A person who is convicted or acquitted of an indictable offence under this section shall not in respect of the death concerned subsequently be prosecuted for unlawful homicide or under this section.
(5) A person who is convicted or acquitted of any form of unlawful homicide not referred to in this section shall not in respect of the death concerned subsequently be prosecuted under this section and no other form of unlawful homicide shall be charged in the same indictment with an indictable offence under this section.
(6) A person who is convicted or acquitted of an indictable offence under this section shall not in respect of the circumstances concerned be proceeded against under the Road Safety Act 1986 or the Marine Act 1988 for having driven a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or a drug and no such offence shall be charged in the same indictment with an indictable offence under this section.
(7) “Drug” means a drug within the meaning of the Road Safety Act 1986.