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Death Crash Drivers Face 15 Years Jail

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

PRISON time of up to 15 years has been proposed for a new offence of vehicular manslaughter by reckless driving in a bid to toughen the Road Traffic Act.

In its current form, Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act—killing in the course of reckless and dangerous driving—prescribes a fine of not less than $5,000 but not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for a term of four years, or both the fine and imprisonment.

However, several new proposed amendments tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday go further, including repealing Section 44 to replace it with a stiff prison sentence and eliminating a monetary fine for killing by reckless driving among other things.

It is now proposed that any person who kills another person by driving a car on a road or public place recklessly “commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment not exceeding 15 years”.

Further, the amendment seeks to insert three additional sections: vehicular manslaughter by dangerous driving; vehicular manslaughter by careless driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and vehicular manslaughter by driving while committing certain offences against the Road Traffic Act.

Vehicular manslaughter by dangerous driving convictions will be liable to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, while manslaughter by vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol would receive the same penalty.

Meanwhile manslaughter while committing certain offences against the Road Traffic Act is proposed to warrant a conviction of a term not exceeding five years. This would include people who cause the death of another person while driving uninsured or while permitting a person or child to ride as a passenger without a seatbelt.

The amendment will repeal Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act.

According to the proposed amendment, the aim is to “remove the perception that the road death offence of killing in the cause of reckless or dangerous driving is in a different and less important family to other killings by changing the name of the offence to vehicular manslaughter.

“The perception that a road death offence is of a lesser variety to other unintentional killings is supported by the lesser penalties imposed by the law for conviction of that offence as compared to other homicide offences. In terms of fault on the part of the driver, and the impact of death on loved ones, there can really be little distinction between road deaths and other unintentional killings.

“In addition to raising the profile of the road death offence in the Road Traffic Act, the bill seeks to expand the law’s reach to include more circumstances by which a driver may commit a road death offence.”

There have been a number of convictions this year for killing in the course of dangerous driving, with some arguing the fines are insufficient when compared to the loss of life.

Earlier this month a man was fined $11,000 and given one year in prison for hitting and killing another man while driving high and drunk in September.

Senior Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans fined Quincy Dean a total of $11,400 and sentenced him to prison for killing the 55-year-old man.

In April, another man was fined over $10,000 for causing the death of a female passenger when the car he was driving smashed into a utility pole in February. Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux fined Hartman Rolle $10,500 in total for causing the death of Latura Penn.

Of that sum, $10,000 is for killing in the course of dangerous driving, while $250 apiece is for driving without a valid driver’s licence and while not being covered against third party risk insurance.

Comments

Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

Hopefully this is geared towards criminals who run people over or smash into people while evading police and those who intentionally run over people in an attempt to kill them AND NOT geared toward young people who drive recklessly and lose control and accidentally kill people.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow! So if you must swerve to get out of the way of the PM's speeding police escorted motorcade (with flashing lights and sirens blaring), and you accidentally kill a pedestrian, you could end up in the slammer for 15 years. And what about the consequences of accidentally killing a pedestrian as a result of your vehicle being literally run off the road by a speeding police accompanied bus load of prisoners on its way to court? And what about that pedestrian you might kill by suddenly and reflexively swerving your vehicle at the very last moment to avoid ending up in an unmarked open ditch left on your side of the road by BPL, BTC or the Water & Sewerage Corp., with absolutely no warning signage whatsoever? And let's not forget about that poor driver who has a heart attack or other serious medical issue that causes them to temporarily lose control of their vehicle, resulting in the accidental death of a pedestrian.

Our legislators have failed to put in place policies that would make our roads safer, yet they pander to the survivers of road accident victims who would happily see anyone of us incarcerated for 15 years as a result of the unintentional death of a loved one caused by an accident that is really no fault of our own. A strong word of caution to the legislators.....be very careful what kind of pressure you put on judges by way of required sentences because there could be unintended consequences resulting in grave miscarriages of justice.

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BahamasForBahamians 1 year, 1 month ago

Poorly thought out.. This is a rushed piece of legislation.

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Hoda 1 year, 1 month ago

Seems like a bit much, if your not gonna make provision for pedestrian and cyclists; if the roads are not gonna have proper signage and lighting, and these pedestrian, my god, i was out east recently, one the way back home ppl just in the road, walking in the road in the dark, running cross the road, they just assume the car suppose to stop for them i guess. Robinson Road after three o clock was terrible, children just in the road running cross the road, nobody uses the pedestrian crossing.

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bogart 1 year, 1 month ago

These legislators must be foreign legislators to be totally in stratosphere to not know the COMMONEST BEHAVIOUR OF JAY WALKING plenty Bahamians just turn and walk cross the road as they want tolally expecting their bungie bumper to save them. Sometime driver luckily have chance to stop of have enough distance to slow down an see them willfully intentionally deliberately fully walk snail pace to cross the road to show off to others they tough, stare your car and you down suk teet and glare. Been behind heavy trucks slamming on brakes to slow down and stop when person decide to dont look and just cross road. These days jay walkers with headphones or occupied with phones are new ddangers to drivers.

Legislators soon forget commonestest behaviour is Bahamians just crossing the road as they want an wanting their boongie bumper to save them and there must be laws to also save them from themselves.

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