A wheely mobile problem

Something struck me as somewhat not quite right about today’s story that drivers using mobiles at the wheel could face a not insubstantial jail sentence, but its taken me most of the day to put my finger on it. Well, not my finger as such but that of The Magistrate:

“The law has not changed. All that has changed is the CPS’ guidance to its own staff as to the correct offence to charge when someone causes mayhem on the roads while distracted by using a telephone. In the worst cases (and they will be few) the CPS will charge Dangerous Driving (as they are free to do already) or its most serious version, Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, which for some years has carried up to (I think) 14 years inside. But it isn’t up to the CPS to decide what’s dangerous, as opposed to careless, it’s up to a jury. And juries are notoriously ready to convict of the lower charge, perhaps because any jury will include people who have used a phone while driving. This applies even more so to Manslaughter – in fact it was the acquittal rate that led to the introduction of the offfence of causing Death by Dangerous Driving.”

Plus, I’d hate to be the prosecutor in these cases. I’ve been out with the police on a couple of occasions in the past on operations aimed at catching drivers on their mobiles, and it wasn’t always easy for individual officers to agree if a person had or hadn’t been using a mobile.

I don’t disagree with the notion of doing more to tackle drivers using mobiles, but my initial reaction this morning was one of: “Great headline, little practical difference.” Seems my oft-fragile gut instinct was right, even if my brain wasn’t truly awake.

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