Accused, a professional truck driver, crossed double lines onto the wrong side of the road in his sedan, colliding head on with station wagon driven by the victim, who was travelling in the opposite direction. Victim died at the scene of the collision.
At the time of the incident, the road conditions were fine and dry, accused’s car was in a roadworthy condition, and he was not affected by fatigue, drugs or alcohol. There is a however a “dip” in the road’, which significantly reduced the visibility of oncoming vehicles. The accused was travelling on the wrong side of the road in the face of a warning sign as to a dip. There was no evidence as to why the applicant drove across the double lines. The accused also had his numerous convictions for breach of licensing and registration requirements.
He was charged with culpable driving and dangerous driving causing death. The judge sentenced the applicant on the basis that he was travelling at 92 km per hour, within the speed limit, but over the advisory speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour.
Accused was sentenced by a County Court to four years and four months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two and a half years for dangerous driving causing death. The maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years’ imprisonment. His driver licence was cancelled and he was disqualified from obtaining a licence for 24 months after his eventual release from prison.
Accused appealed and raised excessiveness of the penalty considering mitigating factors like remorse, prospects of rehabilitation, serious injuries suffered, and the situation of his family, one of his children is disabled.
The Court of Appeals dismissed the arguments and stated that his conduct as a serious example of the offence of dangerous driving causing death. The accused was a mature man, who was an experienced driver. Although he was neither drunk nor affected by drugs, he crossed double lines on a blind curve.
His culpability is high because of the weight of the truck, the fact that it was travelling at 70 kilometres per hour and his awareness that there were controlled intersections in that area. Accused also has a prior dangerous driving conviction, which required the Court to place significant weight on specific deterrence. Appeal dismissed.
Source: Howton v The Queen  VSCA 281 (22 November 2012)