Written answer by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on court process for road accidents
12 Aug 2013 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Er Dr Lee Bee Wah, Nee Soon GRC
To ask the Minister for Law in cases where motorists are killed by other motorists in road accidents, whether the current laws allow for the victims’ families to pursue further proceedings and appeal against a sentence imposed by the court on the perpetrator.
Fatal road accidents can give rise to both criminal and civil liability.
Criminal prosecutions are under the purview of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC). Where police investigations reveal that a traffic fatality resulted from criminal conduct, the AGC may prosecute the errant driver. Such charges are usually brought either under section 66 of the Road Traffic Act for dangerous driving causing death or section 304A of the Penal Code for causing death by a rash or a negligent act. The maximum penalties for these offences are a fine, or an imprisonment term of up to 5 years, or both. Disqualification orders prohibiting the offender from holding or obtaining a driving license may also be imposed.
The Member’s question refers to a situation when criminal proceedings have been brought by the State and a sentence has been imposed by the court. The question posed is whether in this situation, the law allows families of fatal road accident victims to pursue further proceedings and appeal against the sentence imposed by the court.
With regard to criminal proceedings, as the prosecution is by the State, the decision as to whether or not to pursue the matter further or to appeal lies with the State. Where the sentence is manifestly inadequate, the prosecution will appeal against it. The Public Prosecutor’s decision is made objectively, taking into account the severity of the offence and the consequences, the impact on the victim, as well as the broader public interest. The victim’s family would not be in a position to appeal against the sentence in such criminal proceedings. However, if the family has concerns, the family may raise them to AGC, which will consider all relevant factors in deciding whether to appeal.
Civil proceedings can be brought by any person in charge of managing the deceased’s estate against the errant driver for compensation.
Last updated on 12 Aug 2013