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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 143 and Schedule 27: Causing serious injury by dangerous driving

775.This section inserts new section 1A in the Road Traffic Act 1998 (“RTA), and makes provision for a new criminal offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. The offence extends to England, Wales and Scotland.

776.The offence is committed when a person causes serious physical injury to another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place.

777.Section 1A (2) defines “serious injury” both for the purposes of England and Wales and in Scotland. In England and Wales, “serious injury” means physical harm which amounts to grievous bodily harm for the purposes of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. In Scotland, “serious injury” means “severe physical injury”. The definitions reflect concepts which are familiar in the respective jurisdictions.

778.Section 1A(3) applies the existing definition of dangerous driving in the RTA to the new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. Section 1A(4) provides that the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving only applies to driving after the offence comes into force.

779.Subsections (5) and (6) create an entry in Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (“RTOA”), making provision for the section 1A offence to be triable either way and setting out the maximum penalties available on summary conviction (in England this is 6 months’ imprisonment or a fine of £5,000, or both; in Scotland this is 12 months’ imprisonment or a fine of £10,000, or both) and on indictment (5 years or a fine or both). It also sets out that the offence will be subject to mandatory disqualification and endorsement and sets the range of penalty points available for the offence.

780.Subsection (7) gives effect to Schedule 27, which makes minor and consequential amendments as a result of section 114. Paragraph 1 amends section 13A(1) of the “RTA” so that the new offence does not apply to motoring events authorised under regulations made by the Secretary of State under that section.

781.Paragraphs 2 to 4 amend sections 23 and 24 of the RTOA to provide for alternative verdicts. Where a person is found not guilty of culpable homicide in Scotland, or manslaughter in England and Wales, they may instead be convicted of the new offence. A person found not guilty of the new offence may in the alternative be convicted of dangerous driving (contrary to section 2 of the RTA) or careless, or inconsiderate, driving (contrary to section 3 of the RTA).

782.Paragraphs 5 and 6 amend sections 34(4) and 36(2)(b) of the RTOA to make provision in respect of disqualification. A person convicted of the new offence will be subject to a minimum disqualification of two years, unless the court considers there are special reasons either not to disqualify them, or to disqualify for a shorter period. A person convicted of the new offence will be disqualified until they pass an extended driving test (section 36 of the RTOA).

783.Paragraphs 7 and 8 amend section 45(6) and, prospectively, section 45A(4) of the RTOA so that an endorsement in relation to the new offence will remain effective until four years have elapsed following conviction. Paragraph 9 inserts the new offence into Schedule 1 to the RTOA for the purpose of applying sections 11 and 12(1) of that Act relating to evidence as to driver, user or owner of a vehicle in proceedings in England and Wales.

784.Paragraph 10 amends, prospectively, paragraph 3 of Schedule 3 to the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 to insert the new offence. Where a defendant is normally resident outside the UK, notice of conviction and disqualification for the new offence will be given to the authorities of a state where they are normally resident.

785.Paragraph 11 amends Schedule 2 to the Armed Forces Act 2006 to insert the new offence into that Schedule for the purpose of sections 113 and 116 of that Act. Those sections govern the reporting of serious offences to the service police force and the Director of Service Prosecutions respectively.

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