Criminal liability of drivers who fall asleep causing motor vehicle crashes resulting in death or other serious injury: Jiminez

7 Nov 2007

Potential legislative or procedural changes needed to be made to address the criminal liability of drivers who fall asleep and cause motor vehicle crashes are examined in this report.

It follows from an Issues Paper released by the Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) in September 2007. The Institute received 13 responses to the Issues Paper.

Ten recommendations are included in this report. While the TLRI does not recommend that any changes be made to the substantive law, it does suggest that some changes be made to police practices and procedures in relation to suspected fall asleep cases.

In particular, this report recommends that the collection of evidence and the interviewing of the driver and any other witnesses be carried out by members of Tasmania Police with training in the legal principles set out by the High Court's decision in Jiminez.

This report also recommends a review of the current community education programs about the dangers of driving while drowsy or affected by a lack of sleep.

Another recommendation of this report is that negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm should be specified as alternatives to the charges of dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm.

The Institute also recommends that, in conformity with other driving offences, dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm should be prescribed offences for a youth who is 17 years old under the definition contained in the Youth Justices Act. This would mean that a youth charged with a prescribed offence is dealt with as an adult, their matter is heard in open court and they are sentenced under the Sentencing Act 1997 as an adult.

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