Passenger - guilty of causing death by dangerous driving

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Hymie | 18:53 Wed 20th Jan 2010 | News
8 Answers
These words are from the Daily Mail, in relation to a fatal car crash, in which two people died.

‘Butres, from Stamford, Lincolnshire, showed no emotion as she was jailed for a total of seven and half years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.
Nichols, her business partner and lover, had earlier been found guilty of the same offences because he had failed to tell her to slow down.’

How can the passenger of the vehicle be guilty of causing death by dangerous driving – unless they grab hold of the steering wheel, or take some other control of the vehicle?

How long before every passenger is equally guilty (as the driver) – unless they tell the driver not to crash?


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The Mail is selective in its reporting. The passenger owned the vehicle and has been prosecuted for the offence of allowing a person to drive whilst over the limit. It carries the same penalty as drink driving.
It's very old and basic law.Mere presence does not make a person guilty of a crime: 'Even if a man is present whilst an offence is committed, if he takes no part in it and does not act in concert with those who commit it, he does not become an aider and abettor merely because he does not endeavour to prevent the offence, or fails to apprehend the offender.' (Hale's Pleas of the Crown; so held in Rv Fretwell (1862) and other authorities).Presence coupled with doing or saying anything which assists or encourages the crime does.

The report is of what the 'business partner' did is plainly of what he wanted people to believe, it's,his version of events.It's missed out other evidence, rather more embarrassing to him.There wouldn't have been a case to go to the jury; it would have been stopped by the judge; on that alone, never mind the jury being sure he was guilty, if that's all there was.There's no crime. in such a case, of not stopping someone else committing a crime! However, evidence that one person acquiesced in the other's actions may be evidence tending to show that he had agreed to the commission of the crime and meant to encourage or actively assist in it.It tends to confirm other evidence of involvement. What we are not being told is what the other evidence was .In itself, and alone, what he did (or, rather, did not do) would not be enough.
he didn't just allow her to drive, he asked her to.

Similar to incitement, I suppose.
Similar to vicarious liability, the passenger was the owner and probably the senior partner or employer and therefore was partially responsible for the actions of the driver
She was prosecuted for the offence Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, code DD50.
He was prosecuted for Permitting Death by Dangerous Driving, code DD54, because he allowed her to drive his car whilst drunk.
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If a) he permitted her to drive his vehicle when he knew she was intoxicated and b) he foresaw at the time that he permitted it, that the driving was likely to be dangerous or c) in the absence of such foresight, that knowledge of the dangerous nature of the driving had been acquired by him from the manner of the driving itself AND that, in that case, an opportunity to intervene had not been taken by him,
he is guilty of dangerous driving [R V Webster [2006] 2 Cr. App.R. Court of Appeal]

Otherwise. if he just knows that she is intoxicated and there's no more to the case than that, he is guilty only of assisting in her driving while over the limit.

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