Your ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Card

Here RoadPeace member Viv Craske shares an update from her fight for justice for her brother.  He was killed by a driver who claimed an undiagnosed medical condition caused him to lose control and crash into a car on the other side of the road. Viv writes:

On the 20th November 2016, I did a guest blog for RoadPeace.  This told of our continued struggle to be heard and for an independent review.  I also contacted Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, RoadPeace’s Patron.  Amongst many things she has said are;

 “it is critical that victims of road crime are not forgotten”, and;

“I cannot imagine there is anyone in this room who does not think there is more that parliament  can and should do to ensure that road crashes are investigated thoroughly, offenders detected, punished and deterred, victims compensated and supported, in both coping with the impact of the crash, but also support in navigating the unfamiliar, confusing and daunting justice system”.

Having read my story and although not able to help with individual cases due to the number of requests she gets, she said she was taken aback by the fact that someone could be found not guilty of causing the death of someone by using the defence of insanity ( citing a medical ‘episode’)but then have no driving ban. To which end she tabled a question in parliament that being;

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to review the law relating to being found not guilty by reason of insanity of the crime of causing death by dangerous driving with a view to implementing an automatic driving ban until the defendant can show through medical evidence that they are a sane and fit person to drive. (HL3565)

Tabled on: 28 November 2016

The reply was as follows;

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:

Drivers are required to report any medical condition to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). DVLA has a responsibility to investigate the health of a driver on receipt of information that suggests that they may have a medical condition which affects their ability to drive safely. The DVLA will decide whether a driver should be disqualified for medical reasons. The Ministry of Justice has recently announced a consultation: Driving Offences and Penalties relating to Causing Death or Serious injury.

So how does this state of affairs play out, well, as the law stands despite a driver using a defence of insanity (and citing ‘medical evidence’ for the cause of the collision) and subsequently being found not guilty by insanity, the court has no power to impose any restrictions on their driving, in fact it can only suggest to the driver that they need to report what has happened to the DVLA. The court does not inform the DVLA!

Why is this and how can that be right? Well I am told that disqualification from driving is a penalty imposed by a court. This requires a conviction and the insanity defence is a special verdict of acquittal. A sanction is unavailable as the accused has not been convicted.

So tell me how can this be right that a suggested medical ‘episode’ can be used successfully as a defence  to secure an acquittal, but there is nothing in law allowed, no ‘restraint’ imposed, that addresses the risk of future harm and in so doing protects the public from the same thing happening again.

Does the law of the land not owe a duty of care to the public?’