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Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

 

Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving
by Helen Newman

 

At Forrest Williams we like to do a little case study after each file is closed, we know that potential clients like to know about real life cases that we have dealt with before.  We are often asked to provide references, which, unfortunately we cannot do (confidentiality reasons) so this is the closest we can come, along with the anonymous references and feedback we receive.

 

This is a case study I’ve been putting off writing, it was a hard case and one I got very close to.  I have been working as a paralegal for just over 4 years during which time I have come to appreciate how very true the comment “no two cases are alike” is, but this one was new to me.

 

You see in this case the client knew he was going to prison, for several years.  His family knew he was going to prison.  He was accepting of this fact, and my job was not to try and keep him out of prison, it was to prepare him and his family for prison and to try and ensure that his sentence was as short as possible.

 

James was charged with 3 counts of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving.

 

He had gone to the pub, drank too much and left in his car. He was driving too fast. He hit another car. The injuries to those in the other car were life altering – all 3 were in hospital for many weeks, all 3 required numerous surgeries, all 3 will never fully recover and be as they were before the crash.

 

James knew this. From the start he knew what he had done, he was distraught, he wanted to visit the injured family in hospital to beg their forgiveness.  He knew he couldn’t so instead he started a Drink Drive Campaign to try and make sure that others didn’t make the mistake he had made, that others didn’t feel as he did. He made posters, he toured around pubs and restaurants in his area asking them to sign up to the scheme to discourage Drinking and Driving. He attended Alcoholics Anonymous to help him come to terms with his use of alcohol as an emotional crutch.

 

James was never in any doubt as to the seriousness of his situation, he was very pragmatic about it. He wanted to work for as long as he could so he could put as much away to help care for his daughter and elderly parents. He wasn’t interested in reducing the penalty – in his eyes he had committed the offence so he would take the punishment – it was his sister who told us about the Campaign he had launched.

 

I worked with James for a year, as we first waited for him to be charged, then through the numerous hearings as it went from the Magistrates to the Crown Court, and then off to the Probation Service before finally the day came for sentencing. I honestly believe that James was, in some ways, relieved when that day arrived – finally he could truly take responsibility for his actions. James was, is, a lovely sweet guy, a devoted father and a caring son. He just made some bad choices.

 

James was convicted of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving and sentenced to 32 months in prison, a brilliant outcome as with good behaviour he could be released on licence after 16 months.

 

James was the first client I ever had to prepare for a certain significant custodial sentence. He knew it was coming and so did I. That didn’t make it any easier. James’s sister commented after the hearing that it was obvious to the whole family how invested we all were in his case – and how much of a support knowing that we were there was for them.

 

At Forrest Williams we know that clients don’t just appoint Solicitors for the legal knowledge they hold. We know that our job is to support you, and those around you, through this difficult time. If you are charged with an offence, and you want a team behind you who care, then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 600645.

 

#dontstreamanddrive Legal Implications

Tracy Johnson, Paralegal at Forrest Williams Solicitors

 

#Dontstreamanddrive
by Tracy Johnson

 

In the news this week, the latest fad of recording or streaming video from mobile phones while driving is being discouraged by Neil, a serving police sergeant, in an unofficial social media campaign.

 

Neil, a prolific Twitter user also known as @SgtTCS (who does not wish his surname to be known), used a driving simulator at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire to demonstrate the effects of streaming and driving and the dangers caused to other road users as a result.

 

During the driving simulation, Neil recorded a video on a smartphone stuck to the windscreen, looking at the phone and not the motorway, which caused the car to drift dangerously out of lane while travelling at speeds in excess of 70mph. In addition, his reaction times were impaired.

 

Neil has organised an unofficial online campaign called #dontstreamanddrive to highlight the dangers of streaming and driving.

 

Racing driver Lewis Hamilton was recently criticised for posting a video-selfie on social app Snapchat showing him riding a motorbike in New Zealand. But there are many non-celebrities doing similarly dangerous things and then sharing the footage on social media, with the numbers of live streaming growing daily.

 

An increasing number of people are using the Periscope app for live streaming from their mobiles while driving, while others are recording video-selfies (like Hamilton) and posting them on online.

 

Neil aims to raise awareness of the fact that live streaming whilst driving is unsafe as it means the driver’s attention is not where it should be.

 

He is also very concerned about the opportunities for interaction provided by some apps, which has led to some drivers being observed performing for the camera and responding to comments.

 

If drivers are not touching the mobile phone, then a mobile phone offence is arguably not being committed. However, if they are driving dangerously then other offences may apply, such as driving without due care and attention, dangerous driving and potentially even death by dangerous driving if a fatal collision results.

 

Official figures show that using mobile phones while driving accounted for 21 fatal accidents in 2014. Currently there is a consultation on the introduction of stiffer penalties for people using hand-held mobiles.

 

Alice Bailey, from the road safety charity Brake, says she would like to see those penalties increase and that she supports #dontstreamanddrive. “You’re actually three times more likely to crash if you do a second complex task while you’re driving,” she argues.

 

The Department for Transport advice on streaming and driving is this: “The message is clear – keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone, or you could end up being banned from the road.”

 

Neil’s unofficial campaign has attracted support from police and road safety Twitter accounts across the country, as well as plenty of ordinary drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. He hopes in the end that the reaction on social media may help make streaming and driving socially unacceptable.

 

If you are being charged with an offence because of streaming and driving, call our team of expert motoring lawyers now on 01623 600645. 

 

specialist motoring solicitors in Mansfield

 

Dangerous Driving Motorcyclist Jailed

dangerous driving motorcyclist jailed

 

Motorcyclist Reaches 135mph While Attempting to Escape the Police

 

Jed Ogilvie, 25, of Paignton, Devon was seen weaving between cars at incredibly high speeds on the very busy A38, in Plymouth. Police clocked his speed at 135mph, nearly twice the legal limit while pursuing him, during which time he jumped a red light and sped across a roundabout before heading off the A38 into Embankment Road.

 

Ogilvie managed to outrun the squad cars chasing after him, however when he tried to undertake a car he slammed into the side of the vehicle, throwing him off his bike.

 

The driver of the car got out to help him, but Ogilvie climbed back onto his bike and said, “Don’t call the police, don’t get them involved – I will pay for it”

 

He was then about to speed away when two shop workers, who had watched the incident, held him back long enough for the police to arrive at the scene.

 

Ogilvie was arrested for possessing a class C drug; driving a motor vehicle dangerously; using a vehicle without insurance and riding without a license.  He was jailed for a total of 12 months.

 

He was also banned from the road for two years.

 

The judge said Ogilvie maintained a “sustained period of extremely dangerous driving” before colliding with a car and then attempting to flee the scene.

 

Forrest Williams, specialist Motoring Solicitors commented –

 

Drink Driving carries a mandatory 12 months disqualification and often leads to imprisonment. You will also have to pass an extended re test. Dangerous Driving is defined in  section 2A of the RTA 1988 as “the standard of driving falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.”

 

Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate dangerous driving from careless driving. In effect it is simply how far below the expected standard of driving the driving was. The penalties are very different. You cannot go to prison for careless driving and there is not an obligatory disqualification although the court can impose a disqualification they can also impose penalty points instead.

 

It is important to get expert advice on this. We may be able to persuade the prosecution to reduces the charges to careless driving or if appropriate we can plead Not Guilty and defend you at trial.

 

For more information look at our Dangerous Driving page.

 

ARE YOU FACING A DANGEROUS DRIVING CHARGE?

CALL US NOW FOR ADVICE ON 01623 600645

 

We are very grateful to Alex Moore, who recently joined us for work experience, for this blog post.

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