Drivers of vehicles, who commit road traffic offences, may be charged by the traffic police under the Penal Code (see related article – Sec 336, 337,338 & 304A) or section 64(1) of the Road Traffic Act (RTA) for dangerous driving. Examples of dangerous driving include driving against traffic light signals, suddenly filtering into lanes and causing accident, and colliding into pedestrians at zebra crossings. The Singapore Police Force published a case of two persons charged for dangerous driving.

The maximum penalty is fines up to $5,000 and/or up to 12 months’ jail. Offenders can also be disqualified from driving for a certain period of time, or for life.

 

What Sentence May Drivers Convicted of Sec 64 RTA Dangerous Driving Get?

When deciding the appropriate sentence for a driver convicted of dangerous driving, the court will take into account the harm caused to the victim and the driver’s culpability.  In the High Court case of Public Prosecutor v Koh Thiam Huat the Learned Judge stated at [43]:

The Prosecution’s second submission was that a custodial sentence ought to be the norm in cases where serious damage or injuries had resulted from dangerous driving (see [40] above). Essentially, this calls for a custodial norm where there is a high level of harm caused by the offence. I would agree that this is an appropriate starting point, but I hasten to add that this is not because the consideration of harm invariably eclipses any consideration of culpability. As I have already emphasised in the preceding paragraph, a sentencing court must have regard to both the level of harm and the accused’s culpability, as well as the applicable mitigating and aggravating factors. However, if there is a high level of harm caused by an accused’s dangerous driving, a custodial sentence may very well be the presumptive sentencing approach because the accused’s corresponding culpability is unlikely to be low in such cases. Even then, however, the sentencing court must still add the applicable mitigating and aggravating factors into the balance and weigh all the relevant considerations holistically before determining if the overall severity of the offence may be said to bring the case across the custodial threshold.

 

Actual or Potential Harm

Based on the degrees of harm categories stated at [33] in Public Prosecutor v Aw Tai Hock [2017] SGHC 240, the court will first look at how much harm has been caused, or could have been caused, by the driver’s dangerous driving. There are 4 categories of harm:

Slight Harm Slight or moderate property damage and/or slight physical injury not requiring hospitalisation or medical leave.
Moderate Harm Serious property damage and/or moderate personal injury requiring hospitalisation or medical leave. However, there are no fractures or permanent injuries.
Serious Harm Serious personal injury which usually involves fractures. Serious personal injuries also include injuries which are permanent and/or which require significant surgery.
Very Serious Harm Loss of limb, sight, hearing or life, or where there is paralysis.

 

Culpability of the Driver

In Public Prosecutor v Aw Tai Hock, at [34], the court also listed 3 factors which generally affect the culpability of a driver for dangerous driving:

  1. Manner of driving: The level of danger posed by the offender’s actions – How dangerous the driving was and the extent of danger posed to other road users. Culpability would increase where there are aggravating factors such as drink-driving, using a mobile phone while car is moving, speeding, sleepy driving, disobeying traffic rules, driving against the flow of traffic or off the road, being involved in a car chase, or exhibiting poor control of the vehicle.
  2. Circumstances of driving: Circumstances surrounding the incident which may have increased the danger for road users during the accident. Aggravating circumstances would include dangerous driving         during rush hour when there is heavy traffic, driving within a residential or school zone, driving a heavy vehicle which is more difficult to control and requires a quicker reaction time.
  3. Reasons for driving: The driver’s reasons or motivations for driving dangerously. Where the dangerous driving was deliberate, there would be higher culpability as compared a driver who drove dangerously in an emergency situation. An example of an emergency situation would include receiving a call from person who intends to commit suicide.

 

For inquiries on criminal road traffic offences in Singapore or if looking for a criminal lawyer in Singapore, contact Ray Louis Law Corporation at +65-9090 8288