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Harsh Reminder not to use Mobile Phones whilst Driving

We all know how dangerous it is to drive whilst talking or texting on a mobile phone, and are probably aware that doing so is now a criminal offence.  But it would seem that for many people this has not acted as a deterrent, as illustrated by a recent case involving a woman who crashed into another car and killed someone!

During her journey, much of which involved driving at speed on motorways and main A rounds, she sent and received a total of 20 text messages.  The woman was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment. 

In sentencing the woman, the Court addressed the issue of whether she had been using her phone at the time of impact or just before the crash, and found that she had not been using her phone at the time of, or in the few seconds immediately prior to, the fatal accident.

It was agreed that anyone who uses a mobile phone whilst driving is likely to be distracted to some degree and that anyone doing so makes a reckless choice in allowing this distraction.  Although it was deemed that the offender was far less likely to have been distracted had she not used her phone at all during her journey, her 21 month sentence reflected the fact that she was not actually using her phone at the time of the crash or immediately beforehand.

This case was referred back to the Court as the Attorney General felt the sentence was too lenient.  However, each case has to be decided individually on the facts and in this instance the length of the woman’s sentence reflected the circumstances of the particular incident.  Whilst it was agreed that the sentence was lenient, the Court of Appeal, having taken into account all the circumstances, would not order it to be increased.

The case serves as a reminder that driving whilst using a phone, or any similar device without a hands-free set, is illegal and the penalties can be severe.